cover image The Torment of Others

The Torment of Others

Val McDermid, , read by Gerard Doyle. . Audio Renaissance, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59397-678-1

The latest addition to McDermid's dark and gritty police procedurals, which have become even more popular thanks to the BBC America TV program The Wire in the Blood , finds the series' usual main protagonists, psychologist/profiler Dr. Tony Hill and Det. Chief Insp. Carol Jordan, joined by DI Don Merrick, elevated from the ranks of supporting players. Topping their docket are two serial killers: a child molester who murders and hides his young male victims and the Creeper, who tortures and slays prostitutes using the identical modus operandi of a killer firmly ensconced in a mental facility. McDermid's strength is the engaging and multidimensional characters he creates on both sides of the law. The book was a finalist for the CWA's 2004 Gold Dagger Award, but this audio abridgment is more interested in story than in character. There are several effective set pieces, notably an undercover sting that goes bad, resulting in the abduction and torture of a novice policewoman, and Merrick's life and death struggle with the child predator. At these points, Doyle's competent but undistinguished performance rises to the challenge. But by trimming away the novels' strongest element—its vibrant characters—the abridgment highlights the novel's weakest element: the less than credible sequences leading to the identity and capture of the Creeper. Simultaneous release with St. Martin's/Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, May 2). (June)