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The Retribution [Hardcover]

Val McDermid
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this author Jan. 4 2012
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Wow...Val McDermid's latest book, The Retribution, was literally a non-stop read for me. Picked it up in the morning and finished late that night.

Now, I don't know if you're familiar with this fantastic Scottish author, but if you love crime novels, she's an author you want to read. She has written three series, but my favourites are the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books. A television series - Wire in the Blood - is also based on these characters.

In The Retribution, Hill, a psychological profiler and Jordan, a Detective Inspector with the MIT - major incident team - are stunned to learn that Jacko Vance, a charismatic serial killer they imprisoned, has escaped. Jacko - "killer of seventeen teenage girls, murderer of a serving police officer and a man once voted the sexiest man on British TV", promised he would seek retribution against those who put him away. At the same time, the MIT is working to solve the gruesome murders of local prostitutes. All this while the higher ups have decided to dismantle the crack team Carol has put together, due to budget constraints.

These two characters have always fascinated me. Neither one of them completely 'fits' into society, especially Tony. "When he interviewed the psychopaths that became his patients, he heard so many echoes of his own empty childhood. It was, he thought, the reason he was so good at what he did. He understood them because he had come within a hair's breadth of being them." The tenuous building of the relationship between Carol and Tony has been building over the course of the series. We get to know more of what makes Tony tick in this offering. My opinion of Carol changes from book to book - still no final opinion. The MIT team is filled with interesting support characters with their own stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Retribution Dec 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love Val McDermid's books about Tony Hill. I have read 3 in the past 2 weeks and can't wait for the next one
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Hill and Jordan series always seems to be verging on the improbable but it moves along at a fast enough pace to help you overlook how absolutely irritating you find the main characters. Of course, they triumph, but it is a pyrrhic victory at best.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A CRACKERJACK THRILLER Jan. 22 2012
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
If you think you've read about the epitome of serial killers, the worst, the baddest, do find a copy of Val McDermid's 25th crime novel, The Retribution. The latest in her pairing of Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan and clinical psychologist, Tony Hill, features a return appearance by Jacko Vance, one of the most heinous murderers in literary fiction. Once "the most popular presenter on British TV and a world class sportsman", Vance had joyfully slain 17 teenage girls and a police officer."

Jordan and Hill who were largely responsible for his capture and incarceration cannot get him out of their minds although they know he's been safely tucked away in jail for 12 years. Not. He has just pulled off an amazing escape, and is bent on avenging himself, punishing his enemies. Of course, Jordan and Hill top that list. Vance is a brilliant psychopath - how will that vengeance take place? Ah, therein lies one of McDermid's many gifts - a master of the elements of surprise and insights into criminal minds she has crafted a stunning thriller that offers not one but two vicious murderers.

In addition to Vance there is a serial killer doing away with women who walk the streets. He disposes of them by different means - the only clue being a tattoo "Mine" on the wrist of each victim.

Suspense mounts as Jordan and Hill begin to realize they may have no idea of how to catch Vance as they can't guess where or who he will strike next - he changes appearances adroitly, takes devilish chances.

McDermid segues easily between both cases allowing glimpses of Vance's mind as well as those of his victims. The author's imagination knows no bounds; she dazzles with her perceptions The Retribution is a crackerjack thriller penned by a consummate wordsmith.

- Gail Cooke.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  128 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Usual Excellent Writing, But Now What??? March 4 2012
By S. Schmitt - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Val McDermid is an outstanding writer. She has the awards, bestsellers and devoted readers to prove it. I'm one of the latter and looked forward to another chapter in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan saga. Other reviewers have done a good job of describing the plot -- Jordan's team spends its final weeks together trying to capture one serial killer, while trying to prevent an escaped villain from claiming another victim as he plots to avenge himself on those who got him convicted. It's hard to describe why I found the novel deflating. The plot is masterful and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. The familiar characters are there, fully drawn and explored in continued depth. There is a very real sense of impending loss that is magnified by the scheduled dismantling of Jordan's crack team, but painful as that was as a reader, it's not what troubled me about the novel. The ending didn't ring true to me. I simply didn't believe the characters would come to that conclusion. I didn't believe they would do or think what was described. I don't want to ruin the conclusion for other readers, but McDermid's characters always ring true, so whether you like their behavior or not, you believe it. The characters are so fully and deeply drawn that you invest in them emotionally. You sympathize with their struggles and quietly hope they can find their way. It was jarring to not believe, in the end, what some of the characters did -- characters you thought you knew, for better or worse. It will be interesting to see what happens next in the series, but it will be more difficult to fully engage again with characters one can no longer entirely trust. I read all of McDermid novels. She's too good a writer to miss any of her work. At it's conclusion, this one doesn't achieve the gold standard she has set in others.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 23 2013
By Keaton Fan - Published on
The show was much better than the book series. McDermid thinks she has to write about nonverbal communication endlessly, for one. Her earlier books in the series mention "throwing down the gauntlet" frequently. Even now, the characters often grin instead of talk.

Then this one ... my word. Does McDermid want to show off how brutal her plots can be? It seems that she wants to kill characters for no reason whatsoever, not to mention having other characters experience unendurable pain. The character of Carol Jordan has lost all my sympathy. She's an alcoholic who refuses to admit she has a problem; she blames her closest friend for the fact that her life has fallen apart; she's a sad, soppy, mess. I can't find anything to relate to in this Carol. Tony is absolutely devoted to her still, which begs the question: Why? Why on earth would he want to have this horrible, toxic woman in his life?

As for the Jacko plot, I agree wholeheartedly with another reviewer who pointed out that he could not possibly have wreaked all that havoc. He would have had to enlist the help of a small army to get so much revenge in such a short time - and he didn't. One man could not have caused so much destruction, especially with the entire country on the lookout for him.

McDermid writes a nice lesbian relationship, but I think she's incapable of writing a heterosexual relationship that doesn't involve immense pain, game-playing, and enormous personal issues. She needs to either (to be crude) take a dump or get off the pot, as far as Tony and Carol are concerned. This "Tee-hee, I'm going to bring them together, then break them apart" approach is tiresome.

The TV series, with Robson Green bringing Tony Hill to vivid life, is fascinating, and written much better than the books. I've read fanfics that are written better. Ms. McDermid, please try thinking outside this narrow box you've created.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Val McDermid at the top of her form, with a game-changing installment in the Hill/Jordan series Nov. 5 2011
By Carol S. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
A friend recommended Val McDermid's books to me several years ago, and I've enjoyed some of her stand-alone thrillers as well as the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series. "The Retribution" is the seventh installment in this series, featuring the mismatched pair of Hill and Jordan. Tony Hill is the bumbling, asperger-esque yet extremely intelligent psychology professor befriended by capable, no-nonsense police inspector Carol Jordan. Jordan uses Hill's understanding of criminal psychology and the human psyche to profile criminals and help direct her investigations. Hill and Jordan have solved many bizarre and gory cases in the past, and "The Retribution" refers back to Jacko Vance, the psychopath that Hill and Jordan captured in "The Wire in the Blood." As the book begins, Vance is in prison and after years of careful planning and preparation, he manages to break out of his prison by switching places with another prisoner who is about to begin a work-release program. Vance plans to leave Britain but in best sociopath fashion first wants to exact revenge on the people who put him away.

The suspense and tension in "The Retribution" thus comes from the certainty that Vance is out there and at some point, in some unknown way, will come after Carol Jordan and Tony Hill. A second plot line concerns the multiple murders of prostitutes, probably at the hands of another serial killer. Jordan is asked to investigate, the last case her task force will handle before the team is broken up and scattered to different offices due to budget cuts.

It would be a shame to give away any of the twisting plot developments, but suffice it to say that the book was gripping, combining the suspense of both the search for Vance and the investigation of the serial killings. McDermid does a great job with dialogue and pacing, and she continues to flesh out the characters of Jordan and Hill (and their co-workers) so that we feel we are right there in the thick of things with them. The ending is excellent and most unexpected. It will be fascinating to see what McDermid does next with Hill and Jordan, as the events of "The Retribution" will inevitably and profoundly change their relationship. Don't start this one unless you have the time to let everything else go and devour it in one or two sittings.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Insulting June 17 2012
By Lisa Davidson - Published on
After reading her years ago and then reading a book every now and then, now I read this where apparently the two main characters have gotten closer, and it all falls apart because -- well, because Carol can't live with the fact that Tony is not omniscient or psychic. Apparently, she's more pitiful and hopeless than Tony. The story was implausible, the plot twists silly, and the ending, as other reviewers have said, sudden and disappointing.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as strong as previous entries in the series Nov. 28 2012
By shadowfaery - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Val McDermid, and the Hill/Jordan series has intrigued, moved and excited me for years. Yet I had some difficulties with both plotting and characterization in "The Retribution". I understand very well the enormous grief, denial and displacement of guilt Carol would have felt after the tragedy she endures, but the enormity of the blame she places on Tony feels not only undeserved, but unrealistic. Despite my sympathy, this is the first time I've found her character supremely unlikeable Some supporting characters are given short shrift, which is understandable given the relatively large cast, but still somewhat frustrating. But the main problem is the denouement. It seems absurd for a character so carefully established as their most formidable foe to behave so rashly and to be dispatched so easily, and the dispatcher is both ridiculous and unfair to both the other characters and the reader. I just felt McDermid ran out of steam after a careful and statisfying build-up, and things went quickly awry in the last half of the book. She's still a terrific writer and I'm invested in these characters, but this one was ultimately a disappointment.
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