Denise Mina is one of the most interesting Scottish crime writers, continually fighting the war on cliché in terms of prose, plot and characterisation. This second novel featuring DS Alex Morrow is a consolidation of her recent move towards the mainstream, in which the author still manages to spring surprises. This is not a conventional whodunit, in fact the reader knows the perpetrator’s identity from the start. Instead, Mina is more concerned with the complex psychology and motivations of her cast of characters, something she portrays brilliantly.
A glamorous young woman is brutally murdered in her home while a disgraced banker hangs himself in his garden. The heavily pregnant Morrow chases the case methodically, and we are also given narratives by Kay, a single mum down on her luck, and Thomas, the dead financier’s spoilt teenage son. Mina’s great skill is in keeping the reader hooked despite the lack of cliffhangers and twists, something she achieves through perceptive social insight and a refreshing eye for odd detail.