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.
I have to admit that, because I have been a fan of Denise Mina's Paddy Meehan and Garnethill books for a while now, I began "Still Midnight" with high expectations. I also have to admit that the book was a bit of a disappointment to me - in some part, probably, because I did expect so much from it going in. Denise Mina's Glasgow has always been a dark and dangerous city but she has outdone herself this time. This Glasgow is a wet, cold city surrounded by swampy grounds and … more
Mina delivers yet another fast-paced, morally-nuanced thriller, her protagonist a driven, complicated Glasgow detective, Alex Morrow, of the Strathclyde CID. For fan's of Mina's Garnethill trilogy, the author has set a standard that is hard to beat, but this thriller and this character come as close as any to the over-the-top personality and dramatic style of her first novels. Morrow stakes her claim with authority, a conflicted, instinctive detective with a feel for the city, its inhabitants and … more
I love to read, always have, and have been writing reviews for more years than I care to say. Early on, i realized there are more books than there is time to read, so I read only books I like and mostly … more
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Eddy and Pat, two Glasgow yobs, are hired to snatch a man named Bob from a modest home in a Glasgow suburb and hold him for a two-million-pound ransom. They botch the job, finding no one named Bob, accidentally shooting a teenage girl, and snatching the girl’s father, a Ugandan émigré who owns a none-too-prosperous convenience store. Police-department sexism leads to DS Alex Morrow’s dim rival, Grant Bannerman, being placed in charge of the investigation; but Alex’s efforts uncover the only leads in the case. An award-winning crime novelist, Mina knows her gritty hometown, and Still Midnight offers a stunning portrait of transcendent bleakness. Alex is close to a breakdown; curiously, we don’t learn the full why for 270 pages. The kidnap victim is haunted by his mother’s rape as they fled Uganda. Even Eddy and Pat are tormented. Similarly, Glasgow is vividly portrayed as an avatar of urban poverty, violence, and utter despair; the lashing rains and raw winds of October in Scotland only serve to deepen the sense of desperation. Grim but compelling. --Thomas Gaughan