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To everyone's amazement, including mine, I was accepted to read English at St Hilda's College, Oxford - at 17, one of the youngest undergraduates they'd ever taken on, and the first from a Scottish state school. I survived the culture shock of arriving in a place where no-one understood a word I said, and seized every experience I could get my hands on. I had always wanted to write, ever since I realised that real people actually produced all those books in the library. But everyone told me that it was impossible to make a living from writing, that I needed to have a proper job.

I knew I wasn't the sort of person who would be suited to a proper, nine to five job with a neat hierarchical career structure, so I became a journalist.

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I spent two years training in Devon, winning a clutch of awards, including Trainee Journalist of the Year, then for fourteen years I worked on national newspapers in Glasgow and Manchester, ending up as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid - a title that sounds far grander than the reality, I should confess.

Meanwhile, I was attempting to become a writer. I wrote my first attempt at a novel when I was working in Devon.

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The best thing I can say about it was that I actually finished it. It was a typical year-old's novel - full of tortured human relationships, love, hate, grief, angst, not to mention the meaning of life. It was, naturally enough, rejected by every publishing house in London.

More books by Val McDermid

But an actor friend who read it thought it would make a good play. So I turned it into a script and showed it to the director of the Plymouth Theatre Company. And he decided it would fit perfectly a season he had planned of new plays by new writers. So there I was, at 23 a performed playwright. It wasn't what I had intended, but I was happy with it. And I was commissioned to write another play, this time for a touring company in Lincolnshire and Humberside. But I didn't have the practical skills to make a success of writing drama, and the agent I had then didn't do anything to help me acquire them.

In fact, he fired me because I didn't make him enough money. Tony doesn't know when Jacko will strike, or where. All he knows is that Jacko will cause him to feel fear like he has never known before - and devastate his life in ways he cannot imagine. Match Up.

The Retribution

Splinter the Silence. Stranded: Short Stories. My Granny Is a Pirate. It's perhaps fitting that for McDermid's 25th novel she's revisited her most thrillingly murderous creation, Jacko Vance - Daily Mirror. Val McDermid's 25th novel is stunningly good, but it comes with a health warning. It is truly disturbing - The Times.

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McDermid never pulls her punches in her graphic descriptions of the evils men and women inflict on each other Her writing is taut, her plotting pacy McDermid is particularly good at analysing human damage and its effects - Scotsman. To write one brilliant book is hard. To write 25 is a miracle. That is what Val McDermid has achieved over the course of her career and it's why she is a much-loved legend in the literary world Young girls are disappearing around the country, and there is nothing to connect them to one another.

Dr Tony Hill sets his team an exercise: they are given the details and asked to discover links between the cases. Only one officer comes up with a theory that is ridiculed For Tony Hill the murder becomes a matter for personal revenge, and, joined by colleague Carol Jordan, he embarks on a game where hunter and hunted can all too easily be reversed. A twisted killer targeting psychologists has left a grisly trail across Europe. Dr Tony Hill, expert at mapping the minds of murderers, is reluctant to get involved.


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But then the next victim is much closer to home Meanwhile his former partner, DCI Carol Jordan, is working undercover in Berlin on a dangerous operation to trap a millionaire trafficker. When the game turns nasty, Tony is the only person she can call on for help.

The Retribution: Tony Hill And Carol Jordan (Book 7)

A dead girl lies on a blood-soaked mattress, her limbs spread in a parody of ecstasy. The scene matches a series of murders which ended with the conviction of Derek Tyler.


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But Tyler's been locked up in a mental institution for two years, barely speaking a word. Criminal psychologist Dr Tony Hill thinks this is not a copycat murder but something much stranger. Hill heads towards a terrifying face-off with one of the most perverse killers he has ever encountered…. Then a bomb explodes in the football stadium, causing massive casualties - and another man dies from poisoning.

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Is there a link between the cases? What are the motives for these crimes? The clock is ticking, and the death toll keeps rising Meet Tony Hill's most twisted adversary - a killer with a shopping list of victims, driven by the most perverted of desires.