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Garnethill Paperback – Bargain Price, September 20, 2007
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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 the Audio Cassette edition.
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 the Audio Cassette edition.
Top customer reviews
Her female lead is a flawed protagonist who does make mistakes at times. All of the characters and situations are extremely HUMAN and realistic, and the devil is in the details when portraying that....she's got it down.
Her descriptive language is perfect...not flowery, but direct and often humorous. Descriptions made me laugh a few times...they are artful and sometimes tongue in cheek. Same with some language. but she can also get emotional reactions that are not humorous...be ready.
It is mind-boggling that this is a first novel.
The setting is Scotland, and books are peppered with slang. Word use, especially spoken, is different from British English, or American, so you may spend a wee bit of time puzzling a few things out, or looking a few things up, until you get used to that kind of structure. I personally adore a setting with authentic language. It is NOT unreadable by any means.
These are an excellent blend of mystery and thriller while also giving a clear look at modern social issues and a little of the past of Scotland. It's done so seamlessly that you will hardly know you learned things.
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. So Maureen who is not trusting of others feels compelled to try to solve the question of who murdered Douglas herself - much to the chagrin of the local homicide detectives
The characters are well developed and very believable. The plot kept me up nights reading. In fact, when I finished this book I immediately started on "Exile" and after that "Resolution". These are all full novels, not skimpy novellas, so it is a testament to the draw of the series that I read them in succession without taking a break to read another genre from my voluminous "to read" pile.
Excellent series. The only "improvement" I would make would be to add a Scottish-American English dictionary as I was lost on some of the Glasgow slang for the first book and a half.
Highly recommended, but I suggest you read them in order as, although they can be enjoyed separately, they are really a continuation of a story.
Most recent customer reviews
Nothing really resolved with Maureen's family. I looked for another chapter. Too many loose ends.