Author: Denise Mina
Gods and Beasts, a trilogy of plot and characters, thrusts Denise Mina on the top of the list of great crime writers. Following The End of the Wasp Season, which won Crime Novel of the Year, Mina creates another great novel with DS Alex Morrow, Strathclyde Police Department, Glasgow at the helm. The title of the novel foreshadows the characters that find themselves involved in crime and criminals; a main witness to a ghastly killing carries the tattoo on his arm and Morrow and her partner DS Harris wonder if Martin Pavel is witness or protagonist when they are called to the Post Office while on another police affair.
Instead of a Scottish pibroch, Mina’s novel becomes part and parcel of characters both comprised of the same struggles that carry us forward in our jobs and lives, thus compelling us into the lives of both Morrow and her detectives and the political situations that surround them.
Detective Morrow returns to her department after having twins, trying to juggle breastfeeding with her job. Her department is fluctuating with inside politics upon her return; two of her officers, DC Tamsin and DC Wilder are alienated from the other officers, Wilder because he is disliked and Tamsin because she is female, English and older. The office politics are mirrored in a politician, Kenny Gallagher who once was a hero for politicking against the Labour Party. Now Kenny struggles for re-election in the midst of a media fury against him and his infidelity. Kenny is also an acquaintance of Detective Morrow’s underworld brother, Danny, who is thrown into the plot sideways.
At present, Morrow and Harris are interviewing witnesses to a ghastly murder. It’s Christmas time and a post office has been burglarized as a long line of people are trying to send off gifts in time for the holidays. Martin Pavel is in shock. Standing in line behind an elderly man, Brandon Lyons, and his young grandson Joseph, Pavel sees the gunman come into the post office with an AK-47 rifle. Pavel notices the gunman and the grandfather exchanging glances. The grandfather shoves the boy into Pavel’s arms and nods. Pavel holds the boy close to his chest as the gunman makes the grandfather help him put money into a bag. A flash goes off as the grandfather follows the gunman to the door and suddenly Brandon Lyons is exploding in gunfire, blood everywhere. Pavel is still holding the boy when the ambulance comes and is trying to tell the story in the emergency room to DS Morrow and DS Harris. They are mystified when they check out Pavel’s story that he is student at Glasgow University and that he is American with a Scottish accent. They discover Pavel has lied about both. And they remember a strange tattoo on his hand, his neck – dots, numbers and the word Beast on his neck. Also, Pavel had said that the gunman not only knew the grandfather but had heard the gunman say the security system was off in the bank. They start following up the leads.
Tamsin and Wilder stop a suspicious driver and become party to a crime.
Gallagher’s wife has had it with his infidelity and in order to get her off his back, he claims he did not have an affair with Jill Bowman, although he did, and his wife Annie demands that Kenny sue the paper for libel. Cornered, he announces that he will, although he knows the media will eat him up alive.
Always brilliant, Mina’s talent presents real people, a true mixture of police, politics, fear of survival and crime and criminals: gods and beasts in all of us. This novel is even better than The End of the Wasp Season, and is headed for another award. Mina provokes, enters and exits, with controlled, explicit situations bound to each other in a consuming plot. One of the best crime novelists around.
Gods and Beasts: A Novel is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will hit the shelves on February 26, 2013
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.