The Mermaids Singing

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The Mermaids Singing (1995) is a crime novel by Scottish author Val McDermid.[1] The first featuring her recurring protagonist, Dr. Tony Hill, it was adapted into the pilot episode of ITV1's television series based on McDermid's work, Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green and Hermione Norris.

The title is part of the fifth line from the poem Song by John Donne, that was referenced in a poem by T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

The book has been described[by whom?] as transphobic.[2]

It was referenced in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.


In the fictional English city of Bradfield, men are being abducted and tortured to death using brutal medieval techniques. The bodies are then found in areas frequented by gay men and women. The police reluctantly recruit a criminal profiler, Dr. Tony Hill. He joins forces with Detective Inspector Carol Jordan, for whom he develops complicated romantic feelings. Dr. Tony Hill has problems of his own, including a mysterious woman named Angelica who frequently calls him for phone sex. As Tony becomes increasingly involved in the investigation, it becomes apparent that the killer is seeking Tony as the next victim. The killer is revealed to be the anonymous caller Angelica, a transsexual woman who kills men that do not return her affections. When kidnapped, Tony figures out her weakness (her desire to be loved) and uses it to avoid being tortured and murdered.


  1. ^ Christiana Gregoriou (29 February 2012). Constructing Crime: Discourse and Cultural Representations of Crime and 'Deviance'. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 194–. ISBN 978-0-230-39208-3. 
  2. ^ Lönngren, Ann-Sofie; Grönstrand, Heidi; Heede, Dag; Heith, Anne (1 September 2015). Rethinking National Literatures and the Literary Canon in Scandinavia. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 182–182. ISBN 978-1-4438-8503-4.