The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel Hardcover – Sep 26 2011
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The End of the Wasp Season: A Novel
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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
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.
After such fine writing, I found The End of the Wasp Season to be a real letdown. The book felt rushed into print. The character development of Alex Morrow seemed shallow and cursory. The "mystery," such as it was, was so obvious and uninteresting. The attempts at psychological insight about the killers' motivations rang hollow.
Denise Mina can do much, much better, as her superb earlier works demonstrated. I wouldn't judge this book as harshly if I hadn't read those first and discovered what powerful writing she is really capable of. Try the Garnethill Trilogy, featuring Glasgow journalist Paddy Meehan, instead. You won't be disappointed, as I was with this book.