Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review of Denise Mina's Still Midnight

The blurb:
Alex Morrow is a cop by Glasgow, Scotland. She isn't new to the police force -- or to crime --- but there is nothing familiar about the call she has just received.

On a still night in a quiet suburb of the city, armed men have slipped from a van into a house, demanding a man who is not, and has never been, inside the front door. In the confusion that ensures, one family member is shot and another kidnapped, the assailants demanding an impossible ransom. Later, the same van is discovered abandoned and burnt out in the woods beside the highway. Is this all an amateur crime gone horribly wrong, or something much more unexpected?

On the case, Alex navigates an urban underworld steeped in every gradation of crime -- drugs, robbery, murder, and religious bigotry -- crossing paths with a brotehr who may or may not be at hte center of it all. All the while, she's negotiating the politics of a police force, a sordid local history, and a marriage every bit as as complicated as the burglary she's trying to solve.

I'd heard Tartan Noir thrown about and found this definition from the Double Tongued Word Wrester Dictionary: "Scottish detective fiction, or Tartan Noir as it’s called, with its brooding sensibility, brutal humor and fixation on the nature of guilt and punishment, has more in common with the Russian novel than it does with traditional detective writing." Set in Glasgow, Still Midnight falls within this umbrella of Tartan Noir with the flawed detective hero, Alex Morrow.

Alex Morrow, is prickly, slightly socially awkward, and a brilliant woman detective. As she unsuccessfully navigates politics in the police department, you can't help but wince. While things don't come easy for Alex Morrow, she's in her element piecing together disparate facts, interviewing hostile witnesses, and reconstructing what may have happened.

In Still Midnight, it's not just Alex Morrow and the other detectives that draw you in. Denise Mina's other characters - the criminals and the victims - are complex, interesting, and three dimensional. Still Midnight is my first time to read a Denise Mina novel and I highly recommend it. I was drawn in by the characters, enjoyed the twists and turns, and am looking forward to my next Denise Mina novel.

ISBN-10: 0316015636 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (March 22, 2010), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Denise Mina is the author of Slip of the Knife, The Dead Hour, Field of Blood, and the Garnethill trilogy, Garnethill, Exile, and Resolution. She won the John Creasey Memorial Award for best crime novel. She lives in Glasgow.

Thank you so much to Miriam and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

1 comment:

  1. I really like Mina's novels and I'm looking forward to this one. I like the definition you found for "Tartan Noir" -- a term I hadn't yet come across!