Saturday, December 17, 2011

Garnethill by Denise Mina (The Garnethill Trilogy)

I read this book in one day primarily because of Denise Mina's unflinching, unforgiving and brutally honest portrayal of a myriad of social issues--all wrapped up nicely in an absorbing mystery told from a new point of view.

Maureen O'Donnell, who only recently was released from a mental health clinic and scrapes by as ticket vendor in Glasgow, didn't need to wake up after a night of drinking with a friend to see her boyfriend tied to a chair in the living room with his throat slit and his head barely hanging on to his body. But she did, and after the shock wears off, quickly realizes she's a suspect.

Maureen, despite her struggles with the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her father, is smart, funny and rough edged, making her a good foil for DIC MeEwan.

Mina puts a refreshing (though at times almost difficult to read) perspective on mysteries by letting the reader see the chain of events through Maureen's eyes as opposed to the inspector's.

And Maureen isn't pretty and perfect. She smokes, drinks too much, swears and (more often than not with terrible timing) tells it like she sees it. She doesn't understand everything about why the police are pawing through her life (though she has a good idea, and isn't a fan of it), has an alcoholic mother, a drug-dealing brother, and two sisters with their own issues.

Aside from her brother, they all think that not only is she going to have another psychotic breakdown, but that she did it.

Helped by friends she made while in the mental institution and her best friend Lizzie, a worker at a shelter for battered women, Maureen gets closer to a shocking truth.

If anything about this book sounds familiar, than I have failed in this review. Nothing, not the characters, the narrative style, the setting or the point of view, has ever been done in the contemporary mystery genre before.

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