"Slip of the Knife"
by Denise Mina
For inveterate mystery fans, finding a new voice can be a wonderful jolt, like discovering your own personal oil well. That is what I felt when I ran across this new book by the Scottish writer Denise Mina. Having been hung up on Ian Rankin and his successful Rebus series, I never thought another writer could so well capture that colorful country and especially the city of Glasgow. Well, Ms. Mina has done it. She has created an outrageously tough heroine, Paddy Meehan, whose ferocious temper and sassy approach to anyone who crosses her path, leaves this reader smitten. An associate of hers once commented "she was famous for losing her temper and going beyond what was appropriate." Paddy, who writes a popular column for one of the dailies called "The News," is shocked to learn about the death of an old but dear friend, reporter Terry Hewitt, who has been shot in the back. She once had an affair with him, but had since lost track of him. Paddy is now living with a friend Dub, a performer's agent and Pete, her 5-year-old son.
She jumps into action when Kevin Hatcher, Terry's partner in a current book project, is found near death, with evidence of cocaine in his system, Paddy's suspicions worsen when Kevin's body disappears. She believes the two murders are connected and is determined to follow the story Along the way she encounters stonewalling officials and uninterested bosses. Things really heat up when she realizes someone is trailing her and lurking near her son Pete's school. This is a personal threat. She will never allow anyone near her son. If anything, she will deliberately become the target in order to flush out the killer. She does, and as the story heats up Paddy begins to believe that the various members of the Irish Republican Army may be deeply connected to the deaths.
In addition to her creation of Paddy, the author really shines in her handling of a large cast of characters. Among them is a convict being released after a number of years in prison. Ms Mina is able to delve into the confusion, fear and frustration one must feel after being finally set free in a new world. Eventually that former prisoner turns up in the unexpected climax..
Mystery fans should welcome this exciting new talent. Even Ian Rankin has said that Ms. Mina "is one of the most exciting writers to have emerged ... for years." Now I have to go back and read her other books.