How the Dead Speak (Carol Jordan and Tony Hill series No11) by Val McDermid #20booksofsummer22 @LittleBrownUK #AtlanticMonthlyPress

A shocking, masterfully plotted novel that will leave readers breathless, How The Dead Speak is McDermid at her best and a can’t miss read for long-time fans and new readers alike.

Book blurb

After an explosive case that forced Tony Hill and Carol Jordan to reassess everything they thought they knew about right and wrong, both are dealing with the fallout in their own separate ways. While Tony must pay the price for his actions, Carol is conducting investigations into suspected miscarriages of justice.

With Tony behind bars and Carol finally out of road as a cop, he’s finding unexpected outlets for his talents in jail and she’s joined forces with a small informal group of lawyers and forensics experts looking into suspected miscarriages of justice. But they’re doing it without each other; being in the same room at visiting hour is too painful to contemplate. Meanwhile, construction is suddenly halted on the redevelopment of an orphanage after dozens of skeletons are found buried in the grounds. Forensic examination reveals they date from between twenty and forty years ago, when the nuns were running their repressive regime. But then a different set of skeletons are discovered in a far corner, young men from as recent as ten years ago.

When newly promoted DI Paula McIntyre discovers that one of the male skeletons is that of a killer who is supposedly alive and behind bars—and the subject of one of Carol’s miscarriage investigations—it brings Tony and Carol irresistibly into each other’s orbit once again. A shocking, masterfully plotted novel that will leave readers breathless, How The Dead Speak is McDermid at her best and a can’t miss read long-time fans and new readers alike.

My thoughts

A wonderful series that I have been enjoying since The Mermaids Sing and I have all the books. Although I started to read Val McDermid with the Kate Brannigan series and Lindsay Gordon series. So for pretty much 35 years McDermid’s writing has been a staple for me and I’ve loved them all.

Yes, of course, Tony and Carol have had there ups and downs to say the least and recently it has been a really tough time for both of them. In How the Dead Speak we find them in very different circumstances than ever before. With Tony behind bars and Carol no long in the Police Force we might wonder how on earth we are going to have a crime investigation but step up Paula McIntyre now Detective Inspector (DI) McIntyre. Part of Carols old team and, for me at least, a beloved character of the series.

ReMIT, after the disastrous last case which brought about the situation we have now, is being brought back together under a new DCI. DCI Ian Rutherford decides to get them involved with a cold case, around forty graves are exposed in the grounds of a closed convent by developers. They are all children.

Much of the old team is back but there are new recruits alongside the new DCI – DI Sophie Valente and DC Steve Nisbet. After what was, for the old team at least, a wasteful away day the DCI springs the convent case on them, a cold case is not really their territory and he’s stepping on DCI Fielding’s patch on this. As for his team he seems not to be interested in matching duties to perceived skills. So all in all there is a wariness of him. Whilst the newbies are hoping that they can get into both the DCI’s good books and get accepted by the team.

Tony, now in prison, is trying to find ways to keep out of trouble, get his book written and find something else to do to help him repay his debt to society. He’s also refused to see Carol until she seeks help for the PTSD he knows she is suffering from. He misses her. This is perhaps his greatest punishment. Then he receives a visit from his mother.

Carol has, finally, stopped drinking. She has totally renovated the barn and lives a lonely life but one she is settling into. She’s started to learn wood working via YouTube. She runs in the hills around her home with her very protective dog companion, Flash. Still, she suffers nightmares and flashbacks. She misses Tony and accepting that he is right decides to take steps to get help. Then she receives two separate visitors. Life is changing once again for Carol.

We also have a couple of characters Mark and his cousin Jezza. As you read it becomes very clear he’s is a very bad guy. We go through a fascinating police investigation to find out whether the real culprit will be brought to justice. Who, if anyone, will be culpable regarding the forty children. There is a lot at stake for the newly reformed ReMIT and having a new DCI wanting to cover his back and bask in glory may bring problems for the team!

As for Carol and Tony well it’s not an easy ride but you’ll really have to read the book to see what happens.

Val McDermid as always weaves a complicated but satisfying, gripping, well written and engrossing story. I very much enjoyed it.

I look forward to the next book. I know things can’t always be neatly tied up with ribbons but there are definitely, I feel, somethings from this storyline that need further resolution.

Book: Purchased

Books on my blog: Wire in the Blood (Hill & Jordan 2) | Insidious Intent | Christmas is Murder (A collection of short seasonal stories) |The Retribution | and now I’ve added How the Dead Speak and to come Still Life

Another of my #20Booksofsummer and at last my thoughts on it is finished. You can check out my list here. Cathy from 746Books is the mastermind and host behind this annual event do take a look at her excellent blog.


Published: Little, Brown Book Group (Publication date UK: 22 August 2019); (Publication date US: 3 December 2019 by Atlantic Monthly Press)

Literary agent: David Higham Associates

Buy: Your local bookshop | (affiliate link) | or use the following links:

Buy this book from Amazon
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Author: Val McDermid was born in Kirkcaldy, a coastal town in the heart of the Scottish mining community. She graduated in English from St Hilda’s College, Oxford – the first from a Scottish state school to do so – before going on to be an award-winning journalist for sixteen years.

Val McDermid’s website | @valmcdermid | Full biography


Check out Val McDermid’s website which has lots of information on all her books and much more.

Tony Hill/Carol Jordan – Books in series

One Comment on “How the Dead Speak (Carol Jordan and Tony Hill series No11) by Val McDermid #20booksofsummer22 @LittleBrownUK #AtlanticMonthlyPress

  1. Pingback: 2022: Another summer another #20booksofsummer22 – Love Books, Read Books


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