Field of Blood Mass Market Paperback
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Young "Paddy" Meehan longs for the day when she will be a real journalist, writing articles and being taken seriously by the male journalists she works with, feeling quite dismal about her current status as a glorified gofer for the Scottish Daily News. But she never expected that it would take the brutal murder of a child, and the ostracism of her family and her fiance, Sean, in order for her dreams to be realised. For when the body of Brian Wilcox is found, and two other children are arrested for the murder, Paddy realises that one of the suspects is Sean's young cousin. Unwittingly, Paddy confides in the wrong person, and the story is splashed all over the news. Her family and Sean are furious with her, but that's the least of Paddy's problems. For Paddy refuses to believe that the two boys were solely responsible for Brian's death, and begins to do some investigative work on her own, and in doing so makes a very dangerous and determined person very, very nervous...
I enjoyed "Field of Blood" immensely, though it probably will not be everyone's cup of tea. The subject matter is shocking and brutal, even with Denise Mina's restrained handling of the subject matter. The violence and brutality of the crime is, thankfully, never explicit or sensationalised. Could this be one reason why the book is not as suspenseful as other novels dealing with the murder of children? I'm not sure, and I would like to think not. The truth of the matter though is that "Field of Blood" is not so much about the investigation into the murder of Brian Wilcox, so much as it is an examination of Paddy's life, her identity and her ambitions and her sense of right and wrong. From that point of view, "Field of Blood" is a standout read. Paddy is the kind of protagonist that most will readily take to and find engaging. So that for me, it didn't matter that about two-thirds of the book was not very suspenseful or edge-of-your-seat gripping. It still was an engrossing and absorbing read. And if I had one criticism about this book, it was that I thought that the entire subplot dealing with the other Paddy Meehan, the safecracker who was found guilty of a high profile murder case, detracted from the smooth flow of the book. How this fitted into "The Field of Blood" was a bit of a mystery to me, and I really do think that the book would have been a much better one without it.
For reference I am a Michael Connoly, Robert Crais, James Lee Burke sort of a person. Denise Mina is right up there with the best of them.
I always feel like apologizing for the time I give up to mysteries...but I have to say that I love the writing, the characters, the insights these authors bring to the table....it is not just plot and action.
Denise Mina writes about Glasgow. Her heroine is an Irish Catholic girl from a working class family....not an upwardly mobile LA male. Her heroine is quiet, self deprecating, subtle...and so is the writing. This was something completely different.....but I loved the characters, the insights, the writing.....Enough to drop everything and go out to Borders and buy the hardback of her new book.
Ms Mina writes tough, uncompromising crime fiction and Paddy Meehan, aspiring journalist is on one level a most unlikely hero. Of uncompromising blue collar Catholic stock in a time and a place where such things matter, Paddy dares dream of a career. Her chance comes after an horrific crime in which three year old Brian is murdered and one of the suspects, a young lad, is part of her extended family circle.
Follow the twists and turns of this novel and a linked but secondary story about the 'other' Paddy Meehan which, while it forms part of the rich backdrop is not directly relevant. Or is it?
I'm delighted to read that Ms Mina intends to write five books about Paddy Meehan. The third is available now, and I'm off to hunt it down.
Highly recommended to those who like rich, gritty crime fiction.
In "Field of Blood", Mina uses a sensational true murder as her departure point: In 1993, two 10-year-old boys murdered a toddler in Liverpool and the resulting trial was predictably sensational, even by British standards. In her similar story, Mina delves into the background of not only the boys and their families but also the community from which they arose. Our guide is Paddy Nelson, the new copygirl at the Scottish Daily News who has visions of a life as a tough, incisive reporter but a reality that is much drearier, even in its complexity. The story weaves through the official investigation, Paddy's hit-and-miss investigation, and Paddy's fractured personal life. Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that I was initially repulsed but then truly captivated by the slobby, sophomoric girl who grew and matured over the course of the book.
Make no mistake, Denise Mina writes very tough books with mature subject matter and unflinching plotlines and these books aren't for everyone, but they are for me. In fact, she's one of a new breed of lady writers coming out of the British Isles who write big, beautifully plotted, very dark psychological thrillers. That club includes Mo Hayder, Minette Walters, and my favorite (favourite?), Val McDermid, who provided Denise Mina with the detailed workings of a regional newsroom.
Paddy Meehan is overweight and insecure but deeply ambitious and verbally holds her own with the men at the newspaper where she works as a gofer. Paddy is perfectly willing to lie, break the law-- or shove a rival's head in a toilet-- as a means to a just end, or to jumpstart her career.
Paddy is shunned by her family, ridiculed by the police, rejected sexually by her staid Catholic boyfriend, and inadvertently causes one gruesome death while investigating another. She grows up a bit in the course of the novel; her desire for justice and her natural talent for journalism make her sympathetic in spite of her continual bad judgment.
This is a terrific read but a graphic and dark one.