With the focus on perpetually angry DS Alex Morrow, the working and criminal class neighborhoods of Mina's Glasgow provide the gritty atmosphere of this dark, but almost slapstick thriller.
The story opens as three fairly dim thugs botch a home invasion, Pat and Eddy going in screaming for a guy named Bob. Who is not among the three generations of Islamic Asians who live in the house. One of whom is a rebellious girl. "Aleesha was a teenager and therefore interested in the world only as it spoke about her. She saw Pat like her, long for her to like him back, and despite her bewilderment and terror, his frank admiration warmed her."
But things are not yet done going wrong. After an accidental shooting, the men grab the oldest and smallest of the household - the patriarch Aamir. Thrust into their van with a pillowcase over his head, "Time began to melt." He finds himself back in a world of terror, escaping from Uganda as a child with his mother.
Meanwhile the lead on the case has been given to the squad's male DS, Bannerman, a devious blockhead and her junior, but a smoother soul altogether. Morrow is furious, but then she's always furious. "She knew her anger was disproportionate and scattered, leaking from her like water through a sock. It was being noticed, remarked upon in her assessments. It's nothing, she said, it's about nothing."
The plot is a suspenseful procedural interwoven with scenes from the viewpoints of the hapless criminals and their captive, but as with all Mina's work, plot defers to character, which unfolds in tandem with the story. Even the perps, with their Three Stooges ineptitude, become real people before Mina is done with them.
Though Morrow is a little too prickly to inspire the affection of, say, journalist Paddy Meehan (A Field of Blood, The Dead Hour, Slip of the Knife), readers will look forward to seeing more of her.