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Trick of the Dark

When Chalie Flint is sent a mysterious package of press cuttings about a brutal murder, it instantly grabs her attention. The murder occurred in the grounds of her old Oxford college – a groom battered to death just hours after his wedding. As his  bride and wedding guests sipped champagne, his alleged killers were slipping his bloodstained body into the river.

Charlie doesn’t know who sent the package, or why, but she can’t get the crime out of her head. And with her professional life as a psychiatrist in tatters, she has plenty of time on her hands to investigate.

But as she delves deeper, and steps back into the closeted, mysterious world of Oxford colleges, she relises that there is much more to this crime that meets the eye. And every step she takes towards the truth is a step closer to danger…


“Reading this is like viewing a particularly juicy episode of Inspector Morse with the added spice of a plethora of powerful gay women at the heart of mystery. Like Morse, it is wonderfully compelling stuff.” Carla McKay, Daily Mail, September 2010

“Despite the social commentary, this is at heart one of those workouts for the grey cells, perfectly executed.” Jake Kerridge, Telegraph, Sept 2010

 “Sensitive and insightful, with a mainly lesbian cast, it’s as much a novel about rites of passage, formative influences, relationships and the contradictory nature of celebrity self-revelation as it is a murder mystery.” Laura Wilson, The Guardian, 18th Sept 2010

“It is a touching portrait of a group of young women on the verge of coming out about their sexuality in the hothouse atmosphere of an Oxford college.” Joan Smith, Sunday Times, Sept 2010

“The claustrophobia and petty academic feudery of Oxbridge is convincing (the author went to St Hilda’s before men were admitted), and McDermid, as usual, plots and writes with commanding elegance.” Marcel Berlins, The Times, Sept 2010

“Gripping page-turner in which several keys events ring nigglingly false.” Andrzej Lukowski, Metro, 23rd Sept 2010

“Trick of the Dark is a superb pastiche of the classic British detective story, and I found it hilariously funny in places.”Uriah Robinson,, 24th Sept

“This gruesome thriller starts off grim, and this continues throughout as Charlie struggles to find the truth.” Star Magazine, 27th Sept 2010

“The more interesting aspect of Trick of the Dark is a religious theme played in a minor key, McDermid reserving some salty remarks for Catholicism.” Colin Waters, Herald, 23rd Sept 2010

“It’s an accomplished thriller, jumping from the past to the present and back with ease, taking in a range of characters and their perspectives. For me, the sign of a good thriller is that it leaves you pondering not whodunit within the pages but howdunit – how did the writer craft such a tricky tale – afterwards. Trick of The Darkn had me ruminating for days.” Rebecca Armstrong, The Independent 22nd Sept 2010

“Thriller with a nice twist. A good read for all.” Essentials, Oct 2010

“Tense, clever and gripping, Val McDermid’s latest novel is the queen of crime at the best.” Take a Breath, Oct 2010

“I have to begin by saying that the violence in The Trick of the Dark is emotional, and there are almost no explicit details of the several murders that take place over a period of many years in the novel.” Literary Review, Sept 2010

“A brilliant thriller from the author of The Wire in the Blood novels, this keeps you guessing until the last page.” Bella, 14th Sept 2010

“Her authorial strength resides in the ability to write twisting, psychological thrillers that are both appealing and often startlingly authentic, and this novel is no exception. Filled with love and lust, lies and half-truths, it’s a beguilingly clever book that kept me guessing right up until the moment of the final revelation, and I really hope it doesn’t remain as a stand-alone and that Charlie Flint returns in the future.” Thomas Stofer,

“Layered with emotional and psychological complexity, this outstanding page-turner has television success written all over it” Daily Record, Oct 2010

“Darkness and danger lurk through the pages.” Choice, Oct 2010

“It’s an accomplished thriller, jumping from the past to the present and back with ease, taking in a range of characters and their perspectives.” Rebecca Armstrong, Tribune Magazine, 3rd Oct 2010

“McDermid brilliantly portrays the escalating costs of obsessive love.” Andrew Taylor, The Spectator, November 2010

“The soft version of McDermid is just as compelling as the hard.”  Marcel Berlins, The Guardian July 2011

“McDermid’s perfectly pitched prose makes everything seem quite simple, and it is impossible to resist a brilliantly paced narrative…For my money Trick of the Dark stands head and shoulders above the latest Scandinavian crimewriters.” Paul Dunn, The TimesFebruary 2011

“The ‘scheming spires’ of Oxford are the backdrop for this Sapphic crime thriller. Disgraced psychiatrist Charlie’s interest is piqued when she receives a package containing press cuttings about a groom murdered at his wedding at her old college. The prime suspects are in the dock but suspicion is soon thrown on to a dotcom millionaires instead. This broad, winding murder mystery also explores sexuality, obsessive love and the heady power of formative experiences.” Holly Kyte, Sunday Telegraph, February 2011


“Just as Charlie becomes increasingly obsessed by the murder, the reader is tightly gripped by the unfolding tale, captivated by the arcane inscrutability of the Oxford collegiate bubble. McDermid is a former undergraduate of St. Hilda’s, so her evocation is flawless, chilling and truly un-put-downable.” Amy Higgins, City AM, March 2011

“McDermid once again spins a wonderfully twisted plot that will leave readers guessing until the final reveal.” Publishers Weekly, September 2011


‘Trick is an irresistibly compelling thriller.’ –