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Garnethill Paperback – September 20, 2007

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Editorial Reviews Review

Garnethill (the name of a bleak Glasgow suburb) won the John Creasey Memorial Award for Best First Crime Novel--the British equivalent of the Edgar. It's a book that crackles with mordant Scottish wit and throbs with the pain of badly treated mental illness, managing to be both truly frightening and immensely exhilarating at the same time.

Maureen O'Donnell, surely one of the most unlikely crime solvers in recent history, comes from a family so seriously dysfunctional that it deserves a television series of its own. Her mother is an overly dramatic alcoholic who "could scene-steal from an eclipse"; her brother Liam is a bumbling drug dealer; and the black sheep of the family is a sister who went to London and became a Thatcherite. The troubled but gutsy Maureen decides to dump her boyfriend, Douglas--an abusive (and married) psychologist she met while a patient at a sex-abuse clinic. After a night of drinking with a friend who's a social worker, Maureen wakes up to find that Douglas has been tied to a kitchen chair in her flat with his throat slashed. As someone with both a motive and a history of mental illness, Maureen is the most likely suspect--until a second, similar murder occurs that links the crimes to a local psychiatric hospital. Denise Mina, who has a background in health care, law, and criminology, is definitely a writer to watch. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

From its opening pages, this winner of the 1998 John Creasy Memorial Award for best first crime novel pulls readers inexorably into the tortured world of sexual abuse victims and their struggle to survive as whole people. Eight months after spending almost half a year in a Glasgow psychiatric hospital devoted to treating sex abuse victims, Maureen O'Donnell is desperately trying to hold together her shattered life. Bored with her job at a theater ticket office and depressed because her affair with one of the hospital's doctors, Douglas Brady, is over, Maureen and a friend get drunk. The next morning Maureen finds Brady's body in her living room, his throat cut. With bloody footprints matching Maureen's slippers at the scene, Detective Chief Inspector Joe McEwan sets out to prove the woman's guilt. He's not alone in thinking her the culprit: to Maureen's shock, both her alcoholic mum and Douglas's politician mother also think she's the killer. Convincing them that she isn't becomes her goal. She picks up a rumor about one of the hospital therapists having sex with a patient and learns that, before his death, Douglas gave formerly hospitalized victims large sums of money. Maureen begins to suspect Douglas's killing is connected to the hospital's clinic. Did a relative of a molested client kill Douglas? Or was the deceased about to turn in a colleague who raped patients? With sharp dialogue and painfully vulnerable characters, Mina brings Maureen's world of drug dealers, broken families, sanctimonious health-care workers and debilitated victims to startling life. Maureen's valiant struggle to act sane in an insane world will leave readers seeing sex abuse victims in a new light.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (September 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316016780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316016780
  • ASIN: 0316016780
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Denise Mina was born in Glasgow in 1966. Because of her father's job as an engineer, the family followed the north sea oil boom of the seventies around Europe, moving twenty one times in eighteen years from Paris to the Hague, London, Scotland and Bergen. She left school at sixteen and did a number of poorly paid jobs: working in a meat factory, bar maid, kitchen porter and cook. Eventually she settle in auxiliary nursing for geriatric and terminal care patients.
At twenty one she passed exams, got into study Law at Glasgow University and went on to research a PhD thesis at Strathclyde University on the ascription of mental illness to female offenders, teaching criminology and criminal law in the mean time.
Misusing her grant she stayed at home and wrote a novel, 'Garnethill' when she was supposed to be studying instead.
'Garnethill' won the Crime Writers' Association John Creasy Dagger for the best first crime novel and was the start of a trilogy completed by 'Exile' and 'Resolution'.
A fourth novel followed, a stand alone, named 'Sanctum' in the UK and 'Deception' in the US.

In 2005 'The Field of Blood' was published, the first of a series of five books following the career and life of journalist Paddy Meehan from the newsrooms of the early 1980s, through the momentous events of the nineteen nineties. The second in the series was published in 2006, 'The Dead Hour' and the third will follow in 2007.
She also writes comics and wrote 'Hellblazer', the John Constantine series for Vertigo, for a year, published soon as graphic novels called 'Empathy is the Enemy' and 'The Red Right Hand'. She has also written a one-off graphic novel about spree killing and property prices called 'A Sickness in the Family' (DC Comics forthcoming).
In 2006 she wrote her first play, "Ida Tamson" an adaptation of a short story which was serialised in the Evening Times over five nights. The play was part of the Oran Mor 'A Play, a Pie and a Pint' series, starred Elaine C. Smith and was, frankly, rather super.
As well as all of this she writes short stories published various collections, stories for BBC Radio 4, contributes to TV and radio as a big red face at the corner of the sofa who interjects occasionally, is writing a film adaptation of Ida Tamson and has a number of other projects on the go.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Bodine on September 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was a wonderful book. It was, at turns, suspenseful, hilarious, gritty, thrilling, sad, witty, insightful and spooky. I stayed up late two evenings in a row to finish it and annoyed my traveling companion by continually reading funny or perceptive lines. It's hard to believe that this is the author's first book. I hope the author has a long and successful career ... and is prolific. I also hope the book (& author) become popular in the U.S. so future books are quickly and readily available.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Neither bleak nor a suburb, Garnethill is compact island of a neighbourhood in the centre of Glasgow, full of dauntingly steep hills à la Bullitt's best car chase scenes. It is certainly not among Glasgow's worst, but neither is it among its best. The book is bleak at times, yes, as befits the genre. And Glasgow, like many places, can be bleak, especially on short winter days with biting rain and wind. This story lives among the low-lifes and marginals of the city, and while those are not the only Glasgow - or urban - stories to tell, they are surely among the most compelling.
Comparing Scottish crime writers with Ian Rankin may be a cliché, but what he and Mina both do well is to root their stories in place, bringing alive the corners and cultures of the cities which are their settings. Mina's characters travel across most parts of the city, and she recreates cafés, pubs, streets and tenement closes with an accuracy that Glasgow readers should appreciate and in which they will recognise many minor landmarks far from the tourist trail and the trendy shops and bars. And the humour (the book is tremendously funny in places), banter and psyche are very Glaswegian, dark and ironic. The excellent sense of suspense at the heart of the book is bolstered by engaging - if sometimes disturbed - characters and an intricate recreation of their Glasgow.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Meet Maureen O'Donnell: member of a dysfunctional family, struggling to survive a history of abuse and to find her own way in the world. Maureen has a relationship with Douglas, a therapist, which she is about to end. When Douglas is found murdered in Maureen's flat, Maureen is a suspect. The investigation into the murder raises a number of issues from Maureen's past, and for a number of other people as well.

Who murdered Douglas and why? There seem to be plenty of people with sufficient motive, but who had the opportunity? This novel deals with the uncomfortable world of victims of sexual abuse and how they relate to a world which has already let them down. Given the setting, it is easy to understand how (and why) Maureen feels compelled to take control of the investigation herself where she can.

This novel won the 1998 John Creasy Memorial Award for best first crime novel. This will be an uncomfortable novel for some to read: Ms Mina has succeeded in creating characters whose experiences and responses to abuse are frighteningly realistic and common.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Judith W. Colombo on August 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Have you ever read a book or seen a movie and wanted to immediately reread it or see it again? That was the feeling I got after completing Denis Mina's mystery novel, "Garnethill". It didn't matter that I now knew who committed the crime. I began to miss the characters and wanted to start at the beginning, so that I could experience meeting them once more.

In "Granethill", Mina created a real world peopled by a mentally troubled but loveable heroine, Maureen O'Donnell, and her dysfunctional family and friends along with a host of other solid and believable characters. The novel's setting is Granethill, a bleak Glasgow neighborhood where a grisly murder has taken place and where the only person who can solve the case is Maureen.

After a night of heavy drinking with her best friend Leslie, a social worker, Maureen decides to break up with her therapist boyfriend Douglas Brady who she recently discovered is married. Her mind made up, she arrives home extremely drunk and goes straight to bed. The next morning when she is returning from the bathroom, a blood soaked raincoat catches her eye, she looks away from it down the hall to her living room. There is Douglas, tied to one of her kitchen chairs with his throat slashed.

The police, led by Chief Inspector Joe McEwan, first set their sights on Maureen, but later change their focus to her brother Liam, who although a supportive and loving elder brother, just happens to be a drug dealer. It is up to Maureen to solve the case and take the police's attention away from Liam.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "ami1204" on May 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I adored this book. Still engrossed in it at 3 A.M. I made a pot of coffee so I could stay awake and keep reading it. I feel as if I have made some fine new friends in the characters, and that they, as friends do, have enriched my life and given me solid memories to laugh at or cry over. Most of all they make me feel that I am not alone in this world. Ms Mina's skill is comparable to that of the great John Harvey, but with an element of Scottish wit and raucous elan that calls to mind Alan Warner's 'The Sopranos'. The common element amongst the three expert authors is the ability to look the grimmest bits of life straight in the eye and to remain able to not only carry on but to retain the clarity of vision that knows beauty and good when they see it. All of the characterizations by all of these authors contain that elusive but essential element of complexity within a person that allows the reader to feel kinship towards the characters, and to feel genuine affection for the soul that created these beset but ennobled fictional human beings. To me, the true standard by which I judge a novel is, would I want to know the author in person, would I want to spend time in the same room with the characters? The answer for Garnethill is not only Yes Yes Yes but the book was so finely crafted that I feel as if I really have spent time with the characters and I miss them. The hero Maureen is superbly offset by her best pal Leslie, and both are people of the highest order. Leslie is like the paradigmatic best friend, she would earn a place in the greek pantheon as the goddess of best friendship. As with all fine works of literature, the plot here is incidental to the superbly rich craftmanship, but that can only occur when the plot is itself flawlessly expedited.Read more ›
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