Mortuary to be named after Val McDermid

WIRE in the Blood creator Val McDermid is to have a mortuary named after her.

Val McDermid said she was 'very proud' to have the mortuary named after her. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The tartan noir scribe, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, was among whodunnit authors who backed a campaign by Dundee University to raise £1 million for a new morgue that will better preserve bodies for dissection.

A dissecting room at the morgue will be named after another Scottish crime writer, Stuart MacBride, creator of the Logan McRae novels, based in Aberdeen.

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Nine other authors involved - Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Jeff Lindsay, Tess Gerritsen, Peter James, Kathy Reichs, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben and Caro Ramsay, creator of the Anderson & Costello novels - will each have an embalming tank named after them.

The morgue has been built at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) at Dundee University, headed by real-life Professor Sue Black, dubbed the real-life Silent Witness pathologist.

As part of the university’s ‘Million for a Morgue’ campaign, the public were asked to not only donate money but to vote for which of the supporting authors they would like the morgue to be named after.

Black, 53, lead forensic anthropologist after the Kosovo conflict, who has starred in BBC2’s ‘History Cold Case’, said today: “The Million for a Morgue campaign has been a tremendous adventure for all of us and I am inordinately grateful to all of the authors who graciously gave of their time and their reputations to support Dundee.

“Val is a great friend to the Centre and the work we do and so I am truly delighted that the mortuary will be named after her, but Stuart has been so pivotal in our success that we have also now chosen to name the dissecting room after him.”

The so-called Thiel method of embalming gives surgeons, dentists, scientists and researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques, practising procedures and developing new equipment and approaches.

Professor Black added: “All of our authors also now have a Thiel submersion tank that carries their name as our way of thanking them for the generosity of spirit.

“We are the first university in the UK to use Thiel embalming exclusively and it is an area where, working together with other colleagues in the University, we are can make significant breakthroughs and change the face of scientific, medical and dental research and training.”

McDermid, 59, is best known for creating the Dr Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, which was later adapted for the television series, starring Robson Green.

The first entry from the series, The Mermaids Singing, won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year.

McDermid’s other notable works include the Lindsay Gordon series -- which brought her her first success as a novelist in 1987, and the Kate Brannigan series.

McDermid said today: “This is a very proud moment for me. I’ve known and admired Sue Black for nearly 20 years and it’s a privilege to be associated with her and her department in this pioneering venture.

“The work that’s being done in this mortuary and the knowledge it will communicate means better life chances for all of us.

“For once, we crime writers have had a chance to put life ahead of death and I’m thrilled to have been part of it.

“Million for a Morgue was a mad idea, but it’s borne more fruit than any of us could imagine. A huge thanks to everyone who put their hands in their pockets to support the campaign.”

MacBride, who came second in the poll, said today: “I’m very proud to have been involved in the campaign and while I didn’t win the coveted prize of having the morgue named after me, I couldn’t have picked a better person to be pipped at the post by than Val.

“Finding out that they’re going to include the Stuart MacBride Dissecting Room in the Val McDermid Mortuary is a really big honour for me.

“As runner-up prizes go it’s pretty damn special.”

CAHID is one of the world’s foremost institutions for the study and application of human anatomy, forensic human identification, disaster victim identification and forensic and medical art. It was awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education this year in recognition of its ‘world class excellence’.

The CAHID team have developed ground breaking techniques in areas such as hand identification, which has directly led to the successful prosecution of a number of paedophiles identified from images of their hands found in obscene photographs and films.