High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.
Hot damn do I love Val McDermid's books.
If "The Skeleton Road" gave me a donkey kick in the feels, then this one makes me wanna binge-read all the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan books I can get my grubby little hands on. (Though I'd like to back-track and read the books preceding "The Skeleton Road." Not to mention McDermid's retelling of "Northanger Abbey," which is, no shit, my favourite Austen book.)
I don't know how to tell you why I loved "The Mermaids Singing" so much without spoiling the plot, but I'll try to sum it up as follows: Carol was right.
My deadlines are approaching, so of course, I'm binge-watching Holmes-themed shows like a mofo. Think "House MD" (he lives at 221, FFS!) "Person of Interest" (though one episode in, and I needed a shower to wash the ick off) and, of course, that piece of gloriousness which is "Elementary". And I've realized there is truth in Ana Mardoll's criticism of many of these shows (and her praise of "Elementary") in that the "special white man" trope highlights social inequality, in that the special white man is always the one with the answer. His specialness justifies the sort of behaviour nobody else would get away with, and because he has all the answers, he always gets away with it.
It's problematic, to say the least.
I liked "The Mermaids Singing" for the same reason I like "Elementary" - everyone has a contribution in the ongoing investigation, and there is cause and effect that is proportionate. More to the point - profiler extraordinaire Tony Hill is not really the one who cracks the case. Sure, he's the one who writes the profile and puts the information together, but in the end of the day, it's Carol's ideas that really crack the case. And a lot of the detectives working on it contribute as well. Yay for collaboration!
I'm pleased, not just because this is an excellent book, but it was also realeased in 1993/4, when I was still a kid. Little things like that make me happy - the world has a place for awesome crime fiction after all!