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Garnethill [Paperback]

Denise Mina
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 8 2011
Maureen O’Donnell wasn’t born lucky. A psychiatric patient and a survivor of sexual abuse, she is 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 her friends, and the sweet balm of whisky. She is about to put an end to her affair with Douglas when she wakes up one morning to find him in her living room with his throat cut. Viewed in turn by the police as a suspect –- aided and abetted by her drug-dealing brother Liam – and as an unco-operative, unstable witness, even Maureen’s alcoholic mother and self-serving sisters are convinced of her involvement. Worse still, the police won’t tell her anything about Douglas’s death, or what the killer left behind in her hall cupboard. Feeling betrayed by friends and family, Maureen begins to doubt her own version of events. Panic-stricken, she sets out to retrace Douglas’s last, desperate 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. This is a breathtaking and compelling piece of crime fiction. Shocking, insightful and shot through with black humour, Garnethill marks the arrival of a powerful new voice, remarkable not only for its grit and candour but for its sensitivity and compassion

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From Amazon

Garnethill (the name of a bleak Glasgow suburb) won the John Creasey Memorial Award for Best First Crime Novel--the British equivalent of the Edgar. It's a book that crackles with mordant Scottish wit and throbs with the pain of badly treated mental illness, managing to be both truly frightening and immensely exhilarating at the same time.

Maureen O'Donnell, surely one of the most unlikely crime solvers in recent history, comes from a family so seriously dysfunctional that it deserves a television series of its own. Her mother is an overly dramatic alcoholic who "could scene-steal from an eclipse"; her brother Liam is a bumbling drug dealer; and the black sheep of the family is a sister who went to London and became a Thatcherite. The troubled but gutsy Maureen decides to dump her boyfriend, Douglas--an abusive (and married) psychologist she met while a patient at a sex-abuse clinic. After a night of drinking with a friend who's a social worker, Maureen wakes up to find that Douglas has been tied to a kitchen chair in her flat with his throat slashed. As someone with both a motive and a history of mental illness, Maureen is the most likely suspect--until a second, similar murder occurs that links the crimes to a local psychiatric hospital. Denise Mina, who has a background in health care, law, and criminology, is definitely a writer to watch. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

From its opening pages, this winner of the 1998 John Creasy Memorial Award for best first crime novel pulls readers inexorably into the tortured world of sexual abuse victims and their struggle to survive as whole people. Eight months after spending almost half a year in a Glasgow psychiatric hospital devoted to treating sex abuse victims, Maureen O'Donnell is desperately trying to hold together her shattered life. Bored with her job at a theater ticket office and depressed because her affair with one of the hospital's doctors, Douglas Brady, is over, Maureen and a friend get drunk. The next morning Maureen finds Brady's body in her living room, his throat cut. With bloody footprints matching Maureen's slippers at the scene, Detective Chief Inspector Joe McEwan sets out to prove the woman's guilt. He's not alone in thinking her the culprit: to Maureen's shock, both her alcoholic mum and Douglas's politician mother also think she's the killer. Convincing them that she isn't becomes her goal. She picks up a rumor about one of the hospital therapists having sex with a patient and learns that, before his death, Douglas gave formerly hospitalized victims large sums of money. Maureen begins to suspect Douglas's killing is connected to the hospital's clinic. Did a relative of a molested client kill Douglas? Or was the deceased about to turn in a colleague who raped patients? With sharp dialogue and painfully vulnerable characters, Mina brings Maureen's world of drug dealers, broken families, sanctimonious health-care workers and debilitated victims to startling life. Maureen's valiant struggle to act sane in an insane world will leave readers seeing sex abuse victims in a new light.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Neither bleak nor a suburb, Garnethill is compact island of a neighbourhood in the centre of Glasgow, full of dauntingly steep hills à la Bullitt's best car chase scenes. It is certainly not among Glasgow's worst, but neither is it among its best. The book is bleak at times, yes, as befits the genre. And Glasgow, like many places, can be bleak, especially on short winter days with biting rain and wind. This story lives among the low-lifes and marginals of the city, and while those are not the only Glasgow - or urban - stories to tell, they are surely among the most compelling.
Comparing Scottish crime writers with Ian Rankin may be a cliché, but what he and Mina both do well is to root their stories in place, bringing alive the corners and cultures of the cities which are their settings. Mina's characters travel across most parts of the city, and she recreates cafés, pubs, streets and tenement closes with an accuracy that Glasgow readers should appreciate and in which they will recognise many minor landmarks far from the tourist trail and the trendy shops and bars. And the humour (the book is tremendously funny in places), banter and psyche are very Glaswegian, dark and ironic. The excellent sense of suspense at the heart of the book is bolstered by engaging - if sometimes disturbed - characters and an intricate recreation of their Glasgow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Page turning Who Done It? style mystery March 11 2003
Bleak, who done it style mystery set in a seedy area of Glasgow with an unlikely heroine for the main character, an adult survivor of incest & family dysfunction. Maureen O'Donnell wakes up hungover one morning to discover her married ex-boyfriend tied to a chair in her living room, his throat has been cut and he has been viciously mutilated. At first, as an ex-mental patient she herself is the prime suspect, later turns into an amateur sleuth and eventually solves the case herself using her personal knowledge of the mental health world & her network of friends to assist her.

Some of the characters in this book are unforgettable, especially hard-drinking, cursing like a trooper Maureen, one of the more unique female main characters I've come across in awhile. Also her perpetually drunk mother, Winnie (no one ever mentions that Mother drinks), her brother Liam the drug dealer, the sisters - 2 total hypocrites in heavy denial, her family is hilarious, a comic tragedy.
While I enjoyed the book, I found a couple of things not credible and not explained. It was not clear to me why so many were quick to believe it was Maureen, when it would be difficult physically for many females to subdue a man & tie him to a chair. Also, I wish more time had been spent on the actual killer, it was such a surprise, what made him tick? I really look forward to reading the next book in this series, hope to see what happens to Maureen and her family in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mean Streets of Glasgow Sept. 11 2002
By Sires
The word that keeps coming to mind when I think about this book is gritty. Not gritty as is determined but gritty as in sand in your shoes. Glasgow as portrayed in this book is abysmally depressing and filled with predators and prey. I couldn't put it down.
The theme the author builds the mystery around is abuse in its myriad forms. The main character is Maureen, a survivor. Her family definitely did not put the FUN in dysfunctional. She has just found out that her lover is married. She has a dead end job. There doesn't seem to be much left to do but go out on a whizzer. Then, she wakes up with a hang over and her troubles really start.
The language is probably a little rough for the more delicate mystery lover--it's definitely not a cozy. It does have an authentic edginess to it. I can honestly say that the raw edges of Glasgow are similar to those in any urban area I've known. Her description of Glasgow's mean streets, and even meaner inhabitants, is gripping and engaging.
It should probably be noted that this is the first of a series. The plot in the first one has a satisfactory resolution, but it's only a waystop, not a conclusion. The second, Exile, and the third, Resolution, are already available in the US. So be prepared to enjoy this triptych of terror.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good Scottish novel Jan. 1 2002
Denise Mina's first novel, GARNETHILL, is a good and honest crime novel. Her main character is Maureen O'Donnell, an emotionally battered woman, who is trying to gain control of her own life after recuperating from a nervous breakdown months before. She is working on a dead end job that she hates and found out recently that her lover, Douglas, is married. That day she decides to get drunk before going home to bed. When she wakes up the next morning with a hangover, she discovers Douglas tied to a chair and with his throat slit.
Maureen has very few people to stand up for her. The police are having trouble believing her story and are suspicious of her actions. She is estranged from her family due to an incident in her past as well as having an alcoholic mother. Ms. Mina does a good job relating O' Donnell's dysfunctional family showing the family dynamic and how everybody is willing to think the worst of Maureen without giving her the benefit of the doubt. Douglas was a doctor where Maureen was recuperating from her breakdown and having an affair with him. The whole book shows how the main character does not wish to become a victim and fighting tooth and nail for it. She becomes very defensive about her past and tries not to take any guff from anybody. She becomes so frustrated with everybody that she decides to do an investigation herself.
The main problem I faced with the novel is the resolution of the crime. I am not spoiling the book, but the problem I had was with the culprit (or guilty party) involved in Douglas' murder. There was no satisfying, clear-cut explanation for why that character committed its actions. It left me with several questions that will not be answered in this book. I think that this is something that makes GARNETHILL a better book.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Did I miss something?
Stared out on a good note , not sure what happened ,it just dragged on and on could hardly finnish this novel!
Published 4 months ago by Casademoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked on this 3 Book Series
Garnethill, Exile and Resolution are the three books in this series and Garnethill is the author's debut novel. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2011 by Barbara
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
THis is a very good debut novel. it is assured, the writing is punchy. However, it sometimes lacks a certain depth, and, personally, i feel that this is an overhyped book. Read more
Published on June 8 2002 by RachelWalker
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read
I was fascinated by this character and the story from beginning to end. I found the backdrop characters and scene interesting. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2002 by Kay L. Robart
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Mystery
This book succeeds both as a mystery and as a work of fiction. Mina takes on a complex set of characters and makes them work in an illuminating and realistic fashion. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2001 by Thomas Edsall
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Debut
One of the best crime novels I've read in quite a while, this book takes the reader deep into the tough world of sexual abuse survivors in Glasgow. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2001 by A. Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but ...
Here is a mystery with splendidly conceived characters, a plot like a snake that winds sinuously in and out of dark places, and a powerful sense of place. Read more
Published on March 10 2001 by Charlotte Vale-Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr pedantic here
This is a reply to any of the editorial reviews that describe the Garnethill location as the grimmest in the city. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2000 by Marc Henrie
5.0 out of 5 stars It's one of those books...
Some books, when you are not reading them, are missed. This story, with characters real and damaged by life and each other, is that kind of book. Read more
Published on March 13 2000
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