“Beneath the Bleeding” by Val McDermid

McDermid, Val. Beneath the Bleeding (2007)  
Audiobook by Recorded Books (2010), narrated by Gerard Doyle

This book opens with Dr. Tony Hill in his office late one night at the psychiatric facility where he works. When one of the most violent patients stages an escape, Hill manages to distract him long enough to allow a fellow worker to be carried to safety. The patient responds with a fire ax to Hill’s kneecap, an injury that lands Hill in the hospital for extensive surgery and a period of painful rehab.

But Hill isn’t the only person in the hospital. Bradfield’s star football (or soccer, as we’d say here in the U. S.) player, Robbie Bishop, is also a patient, suffering from a mysterious illness soon recognized as ricin poisoning. Bishop quickly dies, and Hill tries to keep himself occupied by helping Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan figure out this seemingly motiveless crime. And then a dramatic explosion tears apart Bradfield’s football stadium. When police discover that a Muslim man probably planted the bomb, Hill and Jordan begin to wonder if Bishop’s death and the explosion are related acts of terrorism. Their work becomes more difficult as the local police are pushed aside by the government’s anti-terrorism unit.

But Hill keeps insisting that the two crimes do not fit the profile of a terrorist bomber. However, he is unable to convince Jordan that something else is going on, and the two bicker and spar more fiercely than usual. McDermid, as always, is a master plotter. The reader won’t see the end coming, but once it arrives it makes perfect sense.

Although Jordan supplies Hill with some materials, Hill gathers most of the information he analyzes from his hospital bed with a laptop computer connected to the internet through the hospital’s wifi network. Except for the internet, Hill’s position recalls Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey’s classic 1952 novel. In that book Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, laid up with a broken leg, has colleagues bring him documents from the British Museum that he uses to determine whether Richard III was guilty of killing his nephews in the Tower of London. 

© 2012 by Mary Daniels Brown

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