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The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel [Hardcover]

4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End of the Wasp Season Aug. 25 2011
By Gloria Feit TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Each of the first three chapters of this newest novel by Denise Mina, author of the Garnethill trilogy among other wonderful books, introduces the reader to three women, each of them strong and independent, and each tested by events which follow. The most dramatic, and tragic, is Sarah Erroll, 24 years old, who is sexually mutilated and brutally murdered in the first pages. [The full extent of the savagery is not known till nearly half-way through the book, although it is strongly hinted at.] In Glasgow, the Strathclyde police are called in, and the DS handling the brunt of the investigation is DS Alex Morrow, not quite five months pregnant with twins. The third of these women is Kay Murray, a single mother of four who had worked for the dead woman and, coincidentally, had been a schoolmate of Alex many years ago.

But the central figure throughout the book is Lars Anderson, multimillionaire banker who believed that 'you couldn't trick an honest man.' He appears to be a UK version of Bernard Madoff, having ruined many lives before taking his own in the early pages of the book. There is plenty of family dysfunction and family tragedy to go around in this book, the Andersons only the worst of these.

Alex thinks, as the case begins, that 'she hated sexual murders. They all hated them, not just out of empathy with the victim but because sexual crimes were corrosive, they took them to hideous dark places in their own heads, made them suspicious and fearful, and not always of other people.'

The author kept this reader off balance, with having to figure out who some of the characters were and their relationship to other players, and to the plot itself. The book has sudden shocking moments, only adding to that sense of being off-balance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 'Cops and Bad-guys' story. March 16 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
These characters are people I love...... I want more! I'll be reading everything I can find written by this amazing author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Too bad the book had to end March 5 2014
By Bernie Koenig TOP 100 REVIEWER
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
We know all but the police officers have to figure it all out.
I don't need to say too much about the plot since previous reviewers have done that.

What I really liked about this book were the characters---even secondary characters had depth--and the interactions between them. DS Alex Morrow is a great character and I hope she turns up in more books. The politics within the police ranks was fascinating---when due to overtime and classification officers could earn more than supervisors, the people who wanted to be supervisors were often power hungry which led to bad morale. Morrow being a DS had rank over the regular cops but also had to report to the bad supervisor.

So this book works on both levels--a good procedural crime solving novel and a great look inside the constabulary.

And it was very well written
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4.0 out of 5 stars The End Of The Wasp Season Jan. 22 2013
By L. D. Godfrey TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The End Of The Wasp Season was my first Denise Mina novel. It was a recommendation, and I thought why not.The novel was low-key, so not much of a suspense novel. The author let you know the identities of the murderer(s), so it wasn't much of a mystery novel.The plot had no surprises, there were no moments when you thought "I didn't see that coming'. But I found myself eager to keep reading. Mina's characters may not be as gritty as the characters in some books, but they aren't weak, she has made them tough but likeable, and gave them a certain dignity. I liked this book, liked the way Mina paced her plot,her characters and by the end of the novel she had brought everything together and I was satisfied with the ending. I have another book by this author on the way.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  113 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Girl With The Legs Sept. 29 2011
By prisrob - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alex Morrow, is a tough Scottish detective. She has to be, she is a woman, and in this profession, you have to be tough, and besides she is a leader of men. She has just come from the funeral of her father, a man who had never been a father, but she loved him. Alex's brother, Danny, the equivalent of a mobster had planned the funeral. For that Alex was grateful and for nothing else. Alex is pregnant with twins, and this is a happy pregnancy, but for a detective in a busy unit, it causes some discomfort. Today, Alex was called to the home of a young woman, lying at the bottom of steep stairs, her faced stomped to bits. She was wearing a top but no panties, and came to be known among the squad as "The Legs'.

Denise Mina is one of the greats- my favorite author, Ian Rankin, considers her one of the most exciting new crime writers to come along. The fact that she is Scottish is a big plus. In this book she concentrates more on the characters than the plot. We are to have empathy for two young men considered to be suspects in this murder. We also meet their families and they are enough to give any of us chills. We also meet Kay, an old school friend of Alex's. She is a single mother of four, someone to be admired through her difficult life- a woman who loves her children and is there for them. And, we meet Sarah Errol, the murder victim. Denise Mina brings these charcters to life, we come to understand how they think and how they move through their lives. They matter, the victim, her family and the suspects and their families. Alex Morrow tries to keep her family close, never the twain shall meet. But, we do get a glimpse of Brian, and through her thoughts and actions, we come to find out how much Alex and Brian love each other. There is a softer side to Alex. She is very fair minded and always finds a way to bring the humaness to the murder victims, and the people she meets along the way. The men in her unit respect and admire her. It is Bannerman, the boss, who is disliked. Alex defends him, but understands the men's hatred. Bannerman was one of the characters who was a little misplaced in this novel. I am wondering if he will show up in the next novel.

Denise Mina is a brilliant crime writer- every detail is in place. The plot is well developed, but it is the characaters that are the most brilliant. We come to understand them, like them, even. Everyone except Bannerman, that is.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 09-29-11


Field of Blood: A Novel
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed Sept. 14 2011
By K. A. Smith - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is #2 of Mina's Alex Morrow series, with #3 planned for publication in 2013.
I reviewed the debut title STILL MIDNIGHT a few weeks back.

In that first title Alex Morrow had recently returned to work after a breakdown and period of convalescence. DS Morrow has secrets that she would rather colleagues and bosses didn't know about. THE END OF THE WASP SEASON relates another of those secrets - Alex is attending her father's funeral, and meets up with her half-brother, local crime boss Danny McGrath. In STILL MIDNIGHT Alex asked Danny for a favour. In THE END OF THE WASP SEASON he has one to ask of her.

The opening pages of the novel though describe the death of Sarah Erroll at the hands of two gawky teenage boys. Sarah's attempt to phone 999 is treated as a prank call and Sarah signs her own death warrant when she tells one of the boys that she recognises him. The reader is really never given a clear description of how Sarah Erroll dies but a lot is made of using the blood spatters to determine which of the boys was responsible.

One of the boys, Thomas Anderson, is later told that his father has hung himself, although this is not the motivation behind the murder. He has to return home to become "head" of the family at fifteen, and then it becomes obvious how damaged and dysfunctional this family really is.

At work Alex's former DS colleague John Bannerman has been made DI, and he has resorted to bullying tactics with his team. The team on the other hand not only dislike Bannerman but they have no empathy with Sarah Erroll, the victim of the murder. The investigation by Morrow takes place against the background of police department politics. The fact that Alex Morrow is just over four months pregnant with twins is definitely a complicating factor.

Alex Morrow finds that she actually went to school with a woman who was the primary carer for Sarah Erroll's mother. A little predictably Kay and her sons become prime suspects for Sarah's murder. The unempathetic Bannerman is keen to wrap the investigation quickly by charging Kay.

I really enjoyed this novel, including the puzzle of the title. If you read it watch out for references to wasps. I love titles where the meaning is open to interpretation!
So, do yourself a favour - read these in order, go looking for STILL MIDNIGHT, read that first, and then savour THE END OF THE WASP SEASON.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic Oct. 6 2011
By EJ - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Denise Mina's books. The atmosphere, the original characters, and the plot lines are all top notch. Invariably when I pick up one of her stories, I am completely entranced, and this was no different.

The End of Wasp Season tells the tale of a murder mystery and features a smart, witty, complex and strong female detective (Alex Morrow) as the primary crimesolver. The reader knows who is responsible for the murder early on, but the plot twists and turns and Morrow and her team try to figure it out. The story is deeper than just who is responsible for the murder. It also asks the question of who is responsible for the murderers. In addition, Mina's supporting cast of characters is, as ever, colorful. She seems to have a great sense of the politics going on around a police station and the jurisdictional catfights that sometimes ensue. It makes for a thriller that goes above and beyond its primary genre, reaching out into social issues that face us all.

The only warning I will give is to those who do not like graphic violence and/or strong language. These are features of all of Mina's novels and to me they add authenticity to her work. Thus I found this book to be nearly flawless and very difficult to put down. I look forward to a good night's sleep now that I've finished it.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "They were told too early that they didn't matter." Sept. 26 2011
By Luan Gaines - Published on
Mina marries her talent for thrillers with the insights of a novelist, a vehicle for both the unraveling of a criminal act and an exploration of cumulative emotional abuse that ends in murder. As in The Garnethill Trilogy, Mina knows this territory, delving beneath the surface of a storyline to its murkier elements, twisted intentions, overburdened lives and the random events when reason fails and life is forfeit. In a tale that weaves between privilege and poverty, from Glasgow neighborhoods to a posh English boys' school, from the Strathclyde Police department to a family reeling from the suicide of a wealthy man, pregnant DI Alex Morrow begins an investigation into the murder of a young woman, a case that provides unexpected connections between disparate worlds bound by the mendacity of a privileged financier and the tattered spirit of a boy who uses rage as a palliative for pain. Her personal life newly hopeful, Morrow faces a difficult workplace, but refuses to be distracted as she pursues obscure leads in a brutal crime.

Building a tight plot on the particularities of the case and the personal dramas of primary characters, Mina is comfortable with ambiguity, intimate with human behavior from everyday exchanges to life-and-death moments, from petty one-upmanship to the terror in a woman's voice when she realizes she is about to die, the random idiosyncrasies that provoke a second thought for characters we instinctively don't like, the emotionally frazzled son crying because he "can't do it anymore", the frowsy mother with four teenagers who reacts to police questions with hostility, stroking her intimidated son's back for a bit of comfort, an elderly dementia patient who squeals with joy at the sight of her favorite caretaker, a prideful brother reaching clumsily for forgiveness. At the Strathclyde station, where Morrow's boss systematically undermines the goodwill of his officers to a shabby flat where empty crisp packets line the hallway and a woman ladles out a scant tea to the quiet of an ageing mansion, where two killers creep up the stairs on a venal mission, Mina creates both time and place with exquisite detail, the intricacies of plot sliding together as perfectly as a Rubik's Cube.

With sharp wit and edgy dialog, people engage in various states of connectivity, whether peripheral snarky characters or those around whom the interlocking mystery is built. The sly title comes home with the shock of a thunderclap, everything clear in a moment of truth, an ugly crime the fragile thread that unearths the dark seed that spawns a murder. Still, Mina cheers the soul, exploring the crevices of crime and motives, from the depraved to the truly desperate, as both good and bad wash ashore in a tumble of life's random pairings. There are moments when insights surpass the mendacity of small-minded men, a fractured world suffused with light: "She was more than the beasts of the earth or the indignities of being alive." Mina sweeps up the lost ones, discarded for one reason or another, and gives them voice, a mystery transformed from crime scene to the unveiling of human tragedy in all its forms. Luan Gaines/2011.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First of more Mina reads March 27 2012
By Iris Rose - Published on
This is the first of Denise Mina's books that my husband and I have read. We both felt the book was riveting and complex. A few readers have indicated that they are disappointed with this book, and that others of Mina's were better. If that is the case, then we certainly look forward eagerly to reading her others.
I won't recount the story here because that has been done well and thoroughly. What I will say is that Mina seems to be a master at manipulating (in a good sense) the reader's perceptions of her characters. Other than the detective, Morrow, the perceptions change and grow with every page. She excites sympathy for one, then leads the reader into doubt, then redoubles the sympathy. Characters which we loathe at first are revealed to us as much more complex, with sympathetic attributes. In the perpetrator's case, we could almost feel for him as his relationships with his family are revealed, yet Mina holds that first hideous scene in front of us the entire length of the novel. At the end, we see a tortured perpetrator who deserves his fate, yet the reader almost understands his violent and unreasoning hate. We almost think that he regrets his crime. As to the killer's mother, Mina really yanks us around. It's fun to see her revealed. And as with others, she makes us dislike her, then we see what the killer needs and see her as he does, sympathetically, for a while. Then Mina reveals her for the selfish evil thing she is. The only criticism I have is with the plot around the Murray family, and that is not really a criticism. In one sense, this story line could be filler, but in a better sense, it adds depth and more complexity. One likes Kay Murray, for all her anger. SHe is far from a perfect person, as are her boys, yet we are drawn to her and are glad for the resolution regarding her.
We are left in a limbo regarding Thomas, torn between sympathy and loathing, and Mina has led us down that ambivalent path all the way through the book. The only writer I can think of who matches her is Tana French.
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