How the Dead Speak
By Val McDermid. (Atlantic Monthly Press, 407 pages, $26.)


This prolific Scottish writer can spin a crime tale. Forty bodies of young girls buried on the grounds of a former Catholic orphanage. Did the nuns really abuse them? Then another discovery nearby. Young men. Buried more recently.

This is another in Val McDermid’s series of books featuring psychological profiler Tony Hill (only he is in jail now) and detective Carol Jordan (except she is no longer on the Regional Major Incident Team but is battling post-traumatic stress disorder).

Other than minor complaints about the opening and the ending, “How the Dead Speak” is a compelling read, with multiple developing plots. Yet it’s easy to follow them all and the dialogue keeps one interested with a British touch added: bollocks, gov, bloke et al.

But the reader is left to wonder exactly how Hill and Jordan got into the predicaments they are in. Must have been in the previous book in this series. This is the 11th.

And book No. 11 ends with one of its big plots unresolved. Must be in the next book.

Those are minor quibbles, though. Overall, McDermid grabs you and won’t let you go with this book, which is filled with a large, diverse cast of characters, and compelling story lines. I’ve just read “How the Dead Speak” a second time in a span of a few months and enjoyed it just as much.

Glad I finally discovered Ms. McDermid.