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We're Ken Hebenstreit and Sharlan Douglas, blogging here about the books we love: Mysteries, suspense, crime fiction. If you want to comment on one of our postings, click on its headline.

Posts Tagged ‘denise mina’

Alafair Burke – Denise Mina smackdown

I recently read Alafair Burke’s Long Gone and Denise Mina’s The End of the Wasp Season.  Both authors demonstrated their skill at plotting, laying out complex story lines and clearly guiding us along them to satisfying conclusions. The Burke was a pretty straightforward mystery while I’d call Mina’s (a standalone outside her other series) more of police procedural.

At the end of the day, I have to declare Mina the winner in this duel I’ve invented. Her characters are complex, she understands the nuances of their relationships and observes how those nuances are expressed.

“As Gobby poured three plastic cups of water out, Bannerman turned back and smiled at the camera. It was too flippant for McKechnie–he shifted reproachfully in his seat,” and “It wasn’t the floor wipe McKechnie had been expecting. He had stopped looking at the screen and was checking the crease in his trousers.”



Now for something completely different – Deception by Denise Mina

I’m struggling, both to classify this novel and to decide if I liked it or not. Mina’s first three books put you in the world of the Scottish working class, following Maureen O’Donnell in her efforts to survive the murder of her boyfriend and the lingering effects of her sexual abuse at the hands of her father. They were straight forward, if grim, stories. Deception puts you in the world of Lachlan Harriot, whose psychologist wife has just been convicted of murder. The mystery is did she really do it and, if so, why? It is, in equal parts, fascinating, frustrating and compelling. Am I glad I read it? Yes, but I liked her first three better and I am told that her Paddy Meehan series is excellent. The first one is already on my reading list.

Exile by Denise Mina

OK, I’ll stop harping about how great Denise Mina is.  After I get done reminding you how great she is.  We met Maureen O’Donnell in Mina’s first book, Garnethill, as she was recovering from the psychological aftershock of childhood sexual abuse.  As an ad hoc detective, she tracked down a killer in the murky world of care givers and patients.  She’s even more ad hoc, but immensely insightful, in Exile, uncovering the fate of an abuse victim in the world of drug dealers, while trying to find out what “normal” means in her own life with family, friends and lovers.   Mina’s language continues to captivate me.  Try this:  “Maureen inhaled and felt the nicotine trickle into her system, tickling her fingers, opening hair hair follicles, placating the angry rims of her eyes, kicking her into the day.”