Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Garnethill - Book #103

| Title | Garnethill |
| Author |Denise Mina |
| Genre |Mystery (Tartan Noir) |
| Pages |349 |
| Publisher |Carroll & Graf |
| Copyright |1998 |

Synopsis (from web-site)
Maureen O'Donnell wasn't born lucky. A psychiatric patient and survivor of sexual abuse, she's stuck in a dead-end job and a secretive relationship with Douglas, a shady therapist. Her few comforts are making up stories to tell her psychiatrist, the company of friends, and the sweet balm of whisky. She is about to end her affair with Douglas when she wakes up one morning to find him in her living room with his throat slit.
Viewed in turn by the police as a suspect and as an uncooperative, unstable witness, Maureen is even suspected by her alcoholic mother and self-serving sisters of being involved. Worse than that, the police won't tell her anything about Douglas's death.
Panic-stricken and feeling betrayed by friends and family, Maureen begins to doubt her own version of events. She retraces Douglas's desperate last days and picks up a horrifying trail of rape, deception...and suppressed scandal at a local psychiatric hospital where she had been an inmate. But the patients won't talk and the staff are afraid, and when a second brutalized corpse is discovered, Maureen realises that unless she gets to the killer first, her life is in danger.

Why I read It
After reading Val McDermid I was looking up her backlist and the wikipedia entry made reference to Tartan Noir - a gritty sub-genre of mystery books taking place in Scotland. Among the featured authors was one of my all time favorites Ian Rankin, and some others (Chris Brookemyre & Iain Banks) that my library system only has one book by them. Since I have liked all the books I have read in the genre so far I decided to try a few more of the authors.

The Good
Decent story and mystery. Focuses on the mentally ill not as dangerous but rather as people with problems; which is very unique (and as someone who worked in the field for a few years it is much appreciated to see a more realistic approach).

The Bad
As a first novel it had its stilted moments and the plot advanced a little too conveniently at times. Some character developments were left incomplete.

The Ugly (my opinion)
Overall I liked it and will be reading the next book in the series shortly. The only downside with reading these type of books is you are left with the impression that Scotland is the most dangerous country in the world. Even in the little seaside village of Lochdubh they are killing people like crazy.

The Truth? (other reviews)
Garnethill won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel in 1998.

Mormon Mentions

Author BiographyDenise Mina was born in Glasgow in 1966. Because of her father's job as an engineer, the family followed the north sea oil boom of the seventies around Europe, moving twenty one times in eighteen years from Paris to the Hague, London, Scotland and Bergen. She left school at sixteen and did a number of poorly paid jobs: working in a meat factory, bar maid, kitchen porter and cook. Eventually she settle in auxiliary nursing for geriatric and terminal care patients.

At twenty one she passed exams, got into study Law at Glasgow University and went on to research a PhD thesis at Strathclyde University on the ascription of mental illness to female offenders, teaching criminology and criminal law in the mean time.
Misusing her grant she stayed at home and wrote a novel, 'Garnethill' when she was supposed to be studying instead.

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