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The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel Hardcover – September 26, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (September 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316069337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316069335
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When a notorious millionaire banker hangs himself, his death attracts no sympathy. But the legacy of a lifetime of selfishness is widespread, and the carnage most acute among those he ought to be protecting: his family.

Meanwhile, in a wealthy suburb of Glasgow, a young woman is found savagely murdered. The community is stunned by what appears to be a vicious, random attack. When Detective Inspector Alex Morrow, heavily pregnant with twins, is called in to investigate, she soon discovers that a tangled web of lies lurks behind the murder. It's a web that will spiral through Alex's own home, the local community, and ultimately right back to a swinging rope, hundreds of miles away.

The End of the Wasp Season is an accomplished, compelling and multi-layered novel about family's power of damage-and redemption.

Author One-on-One: Denise Mina and Kate Atkinson
In this Amazon exclusive, author Denise Mina is interviewed by fellow author Kate Atkinson (Started Early, Took My Dog). Denise Mina

Kate Atkinson: Do you have a lot of books planned ahead? Does it worry you that you’ll die before you write them all. (My own paranoia is on display here, obviously.)

Denise Mina: My books tend to unfold as I write them and start with a very nebulous idea. I know some writers have notepads full of ideas they’re waiting to get around to. I used to keep a note pad and found it recently and it was full of dreamlike nonsense. One memorable entry--‘King and Queen of Moon'--what the hell is that?

For me the best books to write, if not to read, are small ideas that snowball out of nothing much at all.

I still have two Paddy Meehan books to write but I’m glad they’re not done now. If I’d written them before the Murdoch scandal I’d have missed out so much juicy stuff.

I’ve never had much of a horror of death. I’m so busy now that whenever I think about dying I comfort myself with the knowledge that at least I’ll get to sit down for half an hour.

Atkinson: Your characters are very well-rounded, not ciphers as in some novels (crime and otherwise). Do you become attached to them or are you aware you’re using them as fictional devices?

Mina: I get very attached to them. When Facebook first started and I was looking up/stalking old friends, I actually typed in half of Maureen O’Donnell’s name before I remembered that she wasn’t real. I usually base my heroes on admirable aspects of people I know, so maybe that makes them seem more real to me. They never feel like ciphers to me, especially not by the time I’ve finished a book. Then they usually feel like someone I like but I’ve been spending far too much time with.

Atkinson: You haven’t always been a writer and could, I suspect, have succeeded in many different fields. If you could have completely free rein what path would you have chosen?

Kate Atkinson

Mina: Nah, I was unsuccessful at everything else. I’m not being modest, I really was because I have a bit of a problem with authority and was prone to getting sacked for being mouthy. Maybe it served me well: I have a friend who wants to write but she has the misfortune of being good at all her until-I’m-a-writer jobs, so she keeps getting promoted.

With completely free rein and writing not being an option: I would have a talent for art and become a sculptor. But then I’d probably need a talent for self-promotion as well.

Atkinson: Do you wish you could write more? Or less?

Mina: Much, much more and all different stuff. At the moment I write for magazines and newspapers, I write plays and poems and comics and novels and short stories. I find all these different outlets invigorating and inspirational. For me there’s no greater inspiration than an impending deadline.

The hardest thing about writing for me is the first draft, making the clay. Shaping it is the re-writes and that’s just fun, but forgiving myself the roughness of a first draft is very hard, and a deadline makes me do it.

Atkinson: Does the question of genre get boring? Yes, this in itself is a boring question!

Mina: I know what you mean. I think of 'genre' as a marketing tool, a way of giving the reader a clue as to what they’re buying; it shouldn’t be taken too seriously because crime fiction especially is a very broad church. Crime, deviant identities, social divisions: those are what I’m interested in anyway. Even if I was marketed as a straight literary writer I’d still be writing the same books.

Because crime is seen as less serious, though, it does mean that you can tackle really complex ideas within a strong narrative arc, which makes it work on two levels for different types of readers. I love that!

Atkinson: Where would your ideal place to write be?

Mina: Since I had kids I can write anywhere anytime. Ideally, either on a long haul flight or in a hotel room up in the early morning with jet lag. Also departure lounges. Headphones on, coffee nearby, departures board above my head and a laptop open on the table. Bliss.

Atkinson: Which do you prefer--beginnings or endings?

Mina: Always beginnings: the joy of that first chapter, the inciting incident from which all the subsequent action flows. It’s like building a bomb out of words.

Endings: it’s very hard to find an upbeat ending in a crime story and yet for me the best crime novels have a sudden twist of tone at the end, that unexpected aftertaste that always reminds me of the final chocolate with the coffee after a long, delicious meal. Hard to do. I prefer blowing things up.

Review

One of the most exciting writers to have emerged in Britain for years Ian Rankin A literary West Lothian question: why do Scottish writers dominate British crime fiction? With Denise Mina at least, the answer is pure class DAILY TELEGRAPH Confirms Mina's place in the premier division ... atmospheric, intense and full of the disturbing flavour of inner-city lowlife GUARDIAN Powerful, passionate and compelling. Mina can chill your blood and break your heart in the same sentence Mark Billingham The plot is unrolled artfully ... the writing is lucid, and the minor characters breathe with an almost Dickensian life SUNDAY TIMES Splendidly written ... magnificently readable THE TIMES Something special ... A tour de force TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Remember the name. This is a major talent heading for the top LITERARY REVIEW One of Denise Mina's many attractions is her willingness to take risks with her characters. She delves deeper than most into emotions, whether of the police, victims or perpetrators; she eschews the usual formula of crime fiction...The financial and moral disintregration of families, the iniquities of the class system and prostitution all play a role. Mina's best THE TIMES Thoughful attention to detail take the novel to another level...Scotland has produced some seriously good crime writers; The End of the Wasp Season places Denise Mina alongside Ian Rankin and Val McDermid FINANCIAL TIMES Miss your bus stop...reading The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina, a gripping tale tracing the links between an elite private school, the suicide of a millionaire banker and the shocking murder of a wealthy young woman GRAZIA Denise Mina is one of Scotland's most impressive crime writers. This dark, angry novel doesn't offer easy thrills or the intellectual diversion of a whodunnit. Instead it focusses on its deeply flawed characters, their motivations and the world they live in ... undeniably powerful SPECTATOR --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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

Good story and VERY good character development.
Susan E. Baird
He had a good family and a bad family, and from time to time Mina seems to want to switch them back and forth but that just muddles the story.
Grey Wolffe
I liked the story the book was really not a read in one sitting, to me I would read some put it down for awhile and come back.
J. McCarty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alex Morrow, is a tough Scottish detective. She has to be, she is a woman, and in this profession, you have to be tough, and besides she is a leader of men. She has just come from the funeral of her father, a man who had never been a father, but she loved him. Alex's brother, Danny, the equivalent of a mobster had planned the funeral. For that Alex was grateful and for nothing else. Alex is pregnant with twins, and this is a happy pregnancy, but for a detective in a busy unit, it causes some discomfort. Today, Alex was called to the home of a young woman, lying at the bottom of steep stairs, her faced stomped to bits. She was wearing a top but no panties, and came to be known among the squad as "The Legs'.

Denise Mina is one of the greats- my favorite author, Ian Rankin, considers her one of the most exciting new crime writers to come along. The fact that she is Scottish is a big plus. In this book she concentrates more on the characters than the plot. We are to have empathy for two young men considered to be suspects in this murder. We also meet their families and they are enough to give any of us chills. We also meet Kay, an old school friend of Alex's. She is a single mother of four, someone to be admired through her difficult life- a woman who loves her children and is there for them. And, we meet Sarah Errol, the murder victim. Denise Mina brings these charcters to life, we come to understand how they think and how they move through their lives. They matter, the victim, her family and the suspects and their families. Alex Morrow tries to keep her family close, never the twain shall meet. But, we do get a glimpse of Brian, and through her thoughts and actions, we come to find out how much Alex and Brian love each other. There is a softer side to Alex.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By K. A. Smith on September 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is #2 of Mina's Alex Morrow series, with #3 planned for publication in 2013.
I reviewed the debut title STILL MIDNIGHT a few weeks back.

In that first title Alex Morrow had recently returned to work after a breakdown and period of convalescence. DS Morrow has secrets that she would rather colleagues and bosses didn't know about. THE END OF THE WASP SEASON relates another of those secrets - Alex is attending her father's funeral, and meets up with her half-brother, local crime boss Danny McGrath. In STILL MIDNIGHT Alex asked Danny for a favour. In THE END OF THE WASP SEASON he has one to ask of her.

The opening pages of the novel though describe the death of Sarah Erroll at the hands of two gawky teenage boys. Sarah's attempt to phone 999 is treated as a prank call and Sarah signs her own death warrant when she tells one of the boys that she recognises him. The reader is really never given a clear description of how Sarah Erroll dies but a lot is made of using the blood spatters to determine which of the boys was responsible.

One of the boys, Thomas Anderson, is later told that his father has hung himself, although this is not the motivation behind the murder. He has to return home to become "head" of the family at fifteen, and then it becomes obvious how damaged and dysfunctional this family really is.

At work Alex's former DS colleague John Bannerman has been made DI, and he has resorted to bullying tactics with his team. The team on the other hand not only dislike Bannerman but they have no empathy with Sarah Erroll, the victim of the murder. The investigation by Morrow takes place against the background of police department politics.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By EJ on October 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Denise Mina's books. The atmosphere, the original characters, and the plot lines are all top notch. Invariably when I pick up one of her stories, I am completely entranced, and this was no different.

The End of Wasp Season tells the tale of a murder mystery and features a smart, witty, complex and strong female detective (Alex Morrow) as the primary crimesolver. The reader knows who is responsible for the murder early on, but the plot twists and turns and Morrow and her team try to figure it out. The story is deeper than just who is responsible for the murder. It also asks the question of who is responsible for the murderers. In addition, Mina's supporting cast of characters is, as ever, colorful. She seems to have a great sense of the politics going on around a police station and the jurisdictional catfights that sometimes ensue. It makes for a thriller that goes above and beyond its primary genre, reaching out into social issues that face us all.

The only warning I will give is to those who do not like graphic violence and/or strong language. These are features of all of Mina's novels and to me they add authenticity to her work. Thus I found this book to be nearly flawless and very difficult to put down. I look forward to a good night's sleep now that I've finished it.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mina marries her talent for thrillers with the insights of a novelist, a vehicle for both the unraveling of a criminal act and an exploration of cumulative emotional abuse that ends in murder. As in The Garnethill Trilogy, Mina knows this territory, delving beneath the surface of a storyline to its murkier elements, twisted intentions, overburdened lives and the random events when reason fails and life is forfeit. In a tale that weaves between privilege and poverty, from Glasgow neighborhoods to a posh English boys' school, from the Strathclyde Police department to a family reeling from the suicide of a wealthy man, pregnant DI Alex Morrow begins an investigation into the murder of a young woman, a case that provides unexpected connections between disparate worlds bound by the mendacity of a privileged financier and the tattered spirit of a boy who uses rage as a palliative for pain. Her personal life newly hopeful, Morrow faces a difficult workplace, but refuses to be distracted as she pursues obscure leads in a brutal crime.

Building a tight plot on the particularities of the case and the personal dramas of primary characters, Mina is comfortable with ambiguity, intimate with human behavior from everyday exchanges to life-and-death moments, from petty one-upmanship to the terror in a woman's voice when she realizes she is about to die, the random idiosyncrasies that provoke a second thought for characters we instinctively don't like, the emotionally frazzled son crying because he "can't do it anymore", the frowsy mother with four teenagers who reacts to police questions with hostility, stroking her intimidated son's back for a bit of comfort, an elderly dementia patient who squeals with joy at the sight of her favorite caretaker, a prideful brother reaching clumsily for forgiveness.
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