Author: Denise Mina
Plot: Maureen O’Donnell wakes up one morning to find
her therapist boyfriend murdered in the middle of her living room and herself a
prime suspect in a murder case. Determined to clear her name, Maureen
undertakes her own investigation and learns of a similar murder at a local
She soon uncovers a trail of deception and repressed scandal that could clear her name – or make her the next victim.
I received Garnethill from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
It’s been a while since I read a mystery. When given the chance to review Garnethill as part of Dead Good Books focus on different authors from around the UK, I was eager to give it a go.
I have mixed feelings on this book.
Maureen is a good character: she’s likeable in a stubborn way and she rebels against the way everyone sees her because of her past. Having to deal with her father’s abuse is one thing: dealing with a family who refuse to accept it happened is another. But Maureen is strong and able to speak her mind.
She’s also rash though, and doesn’t always fall on the right side of the line when it comes to the law and violence. But the sticking point is that the people she gets revenge on deserve it: 110% deserve it and it’s satisfying watching them pay for their crimes in a deeper way than just being arrested.
There are numerous secondary characters: Maureen’s friends and family. Her brother, Liam, with a dodgy career but willing to stand by his sister. Leslie, a friend full of fire until she realises how far Maureen is willing to go. The police have stereotypical good cop/bad cop roles, but enough of a personality to make them distinguishable.
McAskill sighed along with her. “You’re a lucky wee bugger, you,” he said.
She nodded. “Not half…”
The local knowledge and dialogue worked well to set the scene. Their voices are Scottish, the locations are (I presume) accurate to Scotland, the names reflect the location. It helped ground the reader in the setting – you knew where you were at all times, which added a sense of reality.
What the book lacked for me, personally, was tension. It begins with a murder. It unravels a cover up about a series of serious crimes that have destroyed a lot of people. The bad guy is always lurking around the corner. But I never felt Maureen was in any danger, and that took away the spark for me. I wanted to see what happened, true, but I wasn’t completely gripped.
I also guessed who the criminal was. You’re led down various routes, with evidence seeming to point to one person. But having read a few mysteries meant I knew it wasn’t the obvious suspect, and a few clues later and I had guessed who it was. The big reveal was more of a quiet satisfaction that I was right rather than a jaw-dropping moment.
It’s hard to review a book you weren’t completely invested in. This is a solid read: it’s written well, there is complexities to both the characters and the plot. It didn’t take too long to get through so if you’re looking for something to pass the time, then this is a good book.
But that lack of spark, lack of emotional connection to the characters, meant it didn’t get my heart-racing. It wasn’t anything new or unique in a crowded market of who-dun-it mysteries.
An enjoyable enough read, but unfortunately not one I can rave about. It might work for you though.