Garnethill Paperback – Aug 8 2011
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this book! The plot and pace kept me thoroughly intrigued, and descriptions left vivid images in my mind, especially a few which caused me to pause and reflect, wonderfully... Read morePublished 6 months ago by BShatki
Did not like all the swearing, otherwise good story with many twists about family and friends. I look forward to the second book in the seriesPublished 10 months ago by Heather Specken
Stared out on a good note , not sure what happened ,it just dragged on and on could hardly finnish this novel!Published 20 months ago by Casademoon
Garnethill, Exile and Resolution are the three books in this series and Garnethill is the author's debut novel. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2011 by Barbara
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 morePublished on June 8 2002 by RachelWalker
I was fascinated by this character and the story from beginning to end. I found the backdrop characters and scene interesting. Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2002 by Kay L. Robart
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 morePublished on Dec 7 2001 by Thomas Edsall