Cross and Burn is the follow-up to Retribution and features Tony Hill and Carol Jordan (even if you haven't read McDermid's series featuring psychologist Tony Hill and detective Carol Jordan, you may know them from the BBC series Wire in the Blood ).
I have not read Retribution, but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of Cross and Burn.
In Retribution, the pursuit of Jacko Vance led to the deaths of Carol's brother and the woman he loved and the blinding and disfigurement of one their colleagues. Carol, in her grief, blames Tony for not being able to foresee the danger and predict the actions of Vance.
McDermid makes all of this clear so having read the previous book is not necessary. Taking up where Retribution left off, Carol has resigned from the force and cut Tony completely out of her life. She directs her grief and frustration into renovating the old barn where her brother had lived and been murdered.
Tony, an emotional cripple with great empathy, lacks the ability to connect to people in his personal life and is devastated by the loss of Carol's companionship. He feels guilty for not having been able to prevent the events that left them both guilty and grieving.
Paula McIntyre has been promoted and is now serving under the narrow-minded DCI Fielding when she becomes personally involved in a missing persons case. In addition to McIntyre's efforts to locate Bev, DCI Fielding's team is investigating a brutal murder. Off the record, she consults Tony.
When Bev turns up brutally murdered in the same manner as the case they are investigating, it appears that a killer is targeting women with several characteristics in common: similar body type, quiet, professional, and blonde. Carol Jordan happens to fit this description.
McDermid is a master of character, pacing, and plot. I dashed through this one, enjoying every minute. I've read several books by McDermid over the years, although not in this series. She rarely disappoints.
Police Procedural/Crime. Oct. 22, 2013. Print version: 416 pages.