From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. If this novel were a movie, filmgoers would tag it the one to beat for the Oscars. Beyond creating sweaty physical tension, the brilliant Mina may have invented a subgenre: moral suspense. Patricia "Paddy" Meehan, a copygirl at Glasgow's Daily News
, has struggled with issues of goodness since childhood. "I knew I was lying when I made my first communion," she confesses to fiancé Sean Ogilvy the night she delivers other shockers. She won't marry him. And she wants his help interviewing his 10-year-old cousin, Callum, who's been charged with murdering a toddler. Scots are deemed legally responsible at eight, but Paddy sees Callum as another victim. Paddy, who shares a nickname with a career criminal wrongfully imprisoned for murder, can't tolerate injustice. At the heart of the plot is her decision pose as colleague Heather Allen when she makes dangerous inquiries, a choice that spells death for the real Heather, who's everything Paddy isn't: slim blonde whistle bait—and ambitious enough to steal a story from Paddy. After Heather's murder, the reader writhes, not just because Paddy's in danger but because a moment of awful truth awaits her. Mina spins the complexities in the rough music of her working-class Scots, unsparing of brutal details, but unfailingly elegant in her humanity.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Scottish hard-boiled writers like Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, and Denise Mina are the literary equivalents of post-Calvin church architecture: spiky, gray, grim. In her Glasgow novels, Mina, especially, finds the emotional equivalent of what her characters endure and what some inflict on others in the unrelievedly bleak tenements and back ways of the wrong side of town. She introduces a new heroine here, a young woman, Paddy Meehan, who works as a gofer at a Glasgow daily in 1981. The story centers on the horrific killing of a little boy by two other boys. Paddy gets drawn into the case through her recognition that one of the boys charged is related to her fiance. Although the connection and Paddy's involvement are a bit of a stretch, the novel offers a fascinating look at sexism and newspaper politics--and a reminder of how tough it is to be poor and ambitious. Connie FletcherCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved