Monday, March 22, 2010
Still Midnight by Denise Mina
Title: Still Midnight
Author: Denise Mina
ISBN: 9780316015639, Little, Brown & Company, 2010
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: Amazon Vine
First Line: An orange Sainsbury's plastic bag in full sail floated along the dark pavement.
Once again Denise Mina takes us to the mean streets of Glasgow and serves up a tale of a kidnapping gone wrong peopled by finely nuanced characters.
Two Glasgow "yobs" (rowdy, aggressive, or violent young men) break into a Muslim home and demand to see Bob. When they realize that there is no one there by that name, they grab the family patriarch, Aamir Anwar, and name an astronomical sum as ransom-- an amount that no owner of a small grocery would ever be able to pay. Detective Sergeant Bannerman is assigned the case, although DS Alex Morrow is much more capable of solving it. As the investigation progresses, it is indeed Alex's knowledge of the area and her know-how that begins to piece together the clues needed to solve the case.
I've been a fan of Mina's since her Garnethill books. She tends to focus on characters that most readers would consider "throwaways", and she brings them to life in all their complexity and vulnerability. Although the tone is dark and the streets are mean, her books aren't true noir.
Mina demands readers who are patient and observant, readers who are willing to believe that characters who are criminals or drug users can have some good in them-- that they can even show flashes of humor from time to time. If you're a reader like that, then you will be sitting in high cotton because as you slowly peel back the layers of character and events, you'll feel just like Alex Morrow as you put the pieces together.
The further Alex investigates, she discovers that both criminals and victims aren't as they appear to be. A "case" in point is the kidnapped man, Aamir Anwar. Through most of the book, this small older man has a pillowcase covering his head, and he is referred to as "the pillowcase". I didn't like how this appellation dehumanized this character, and once Mina allowed me inside his head, I disliked it even more. This quiet, unassuming little man was just as full of memories, hopes and dreams as anyone else on this planet-- and he's not the only character you can feel this way about in Still Midnight.
As the story unfolds, I felt as though I knew the characters and that I had a stake in how their stories turned out. There were more than a few surprises along the way. Once again, Mina has a winner. The only thing that I feel like warning people about is that she does use Scots dialect, and if you're not used to it, it could be a little confusing. Still Midnight (and Mina's other novels) are well worth a bit of confusion. They're that good.
My Book Rating Scale:
A+...Don't delay, get your hands on a copy of this book!
A...I loved it!
B...I really liked it.
C...I liked it, with a few reservations.
D...I finished it, but it's not my cup of tea.
- Phoenix, Arizona, United States
- Hi! I'm addicted to books (especially crime fiction), laughter and traveling off the beaten path. In my free time, when my eyes aren't glued to the printed page, one of them is usually pressed against the viewfinder of my camera. Let's see... books, laughter, travel, photography. Anything else? Oh yeah-- my dream house wouldn't have a kitchen!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.