Monday, February 8, 2010

Review: STILL MIDNIGHT by Denise Mina

STILL MIDNIGHT by Denise Mina (Orion, 2010)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Denise Mina is one of the new generation of exciting Scottish authors who’ve stood on the shoulders of Val McDermid and Ian Rankin to push ‘Tartan Noir’ even more to the forefront of contemporary crime fiction in recent years.

Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow is summoned to investigate a bizarre case where armed men in balaclavas burst into a suburban Glasgow home, held a family at gunpoint while asking for a million pounds, and then kidnapped the elderly patriarch when the family protest they don’t have that sort of money. The family have clammed up, but as Morrow delves deeper, she soon realises she’s surrounded by dangerous secrets.

There are a lot of great things about STILL MIDNIGHT. Mina’s descriptions, narrative voice, and use of language are superb at times, and the mystery will keep readers interested right to the end. For me personally, one flaw however was the heroine - Morrow came across to me as more irritating than engaging; I found myself continuing with the book despite, rather than because of, her. I didn't build up much sympathy, or empathy, for the character. But Mina's talent in other areas kept me reading.

Less than likeable main characters can work well in novels, but for me Morrow didn’t, until right near the end, when a few things came to light that made me rethink my opinion of her and how she approached others. STILL MIDNIGHT is still a good book from a talented writer - I just felt that if I had clicked more with Morrow, it could have been great. I will read more of Mina though.

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