Good Reading : May 2017
The Long Drop Denise Mina After three acclaimed crime series starring strong female leads (which have garnered acclaim, multiple awards and TV adaptations), Glaswegian empress of crime Denise Mina takes on something new, and old, in her latest thrilling tale. The Long Drop is a novelisation of a bizarre real-life incident from Scottish criminal history: the night when serial killer Peter Manuel (1927–58) went on an all-night drinking binge with William Watt, the husband and father of two of his victims (and an early suspect). While some of Manuel and Watt’s night of carousing was reported at Manuel’s later trial, there are ‘missing hours’ in the official story. Elderly Glaswegians have a different take from the simple ‘ser ial killer’ box into which Manuel was placed. Mina has combed historical documents and local oral tradition to create a ‘reimagining’ of what may have happened. This is an elegantly written literary crime thriller and a cracking page-turner. Even if you know the real-life story, you’re still drawn in and pulled along. The Long Drop is not only a story of what might have happened on that fateful night but also a superb insight into Glasgow of the 1950s, from its policing and justice systems to the role of women in society, family life and the bars and ‘hard men’ of the post-war city. It’s an intriguing, beautifully written book from a masterly author. ★★★★ Harvill Secker $32.99 Reviewed by Craig Sisterson GOOD READING MAY 2017 41 CRIME / THRILLER WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman Mindy Mejia This exquisite, evocative cr ime novel set in small-town Minnesota seems sure to elbow its way onto ‘best of ’ lists and cr ime awards nominations in the months to come. Within the first few pages of Mejia’s first cr ime novel you know you’re in masterful hands. She juggles three narrative viewpoints smoothly, her prose flows unobtrusivly in a style that weaves in detail and subtext about character and setting, but it never hobbles a strong, what-happened-and- who-is-responsible? narrative drive. Hattie Hoffman is a high school girl in a rural town where far ming and football rule, and anyone dreaming of bright lights and bigger things feels out of place. When Hattie’s body is found in an abandoned bar n on the opening night of her star turn as Lady Macbeth, all sorts of dangerous secrets threaten to come to light. Mejia tells the story through three sets of eyes: ageing local sheriff Del Goodman, who conducts the investigation; local English and drama teacher Peter Lund; and Hattie herself (the last two appear in flashback, over the last months of Hattie’s life). It’s a device that could cause the story to falter, but Mejia adroitly builds tension and creates a r ich, exquisite study of character and place as well as a gripping page-tur ner. ★★★★ Quercus $32.99 Reviewed by Craig Sisterson Mejia’s first crime novel you know you’re in and anyone dreaming of bright lights and bigger things feels out of place. When Hattie’s body is found in an abandoned barn on the opening night of her star turn as Lady Macbeth, all sorts of dangerous secrets threaten to come to light. three sets of eyes: ageing local sheriff Del Goodman, who conducts the investigation; local English and drama teacher The Long Drop Denise Mina Afemale leads (which have garnered acclaim, multiple awards and TV adaptations), Glaswegian empress of crime Denise Mina About Denise Mina Born in Glasgow in 1966, Denise Mina left school at the age of 16. She worked in a string of dead- end jobs, including kitchen porter, barmaid, cook and as a worker in a meat processing factory. She eventually returned to education and obtained a law degree from Glasgow University. Her partner, Steve, is a forensic scientist, which means she has a convenient research resource at her disposal in the comfort of her own home.