by Denise Mina

When Maureen O’Donnell discovers her boyfriend, therapist Douglas Brady, tied to a chair in her living room with his throat cut and fountains of blood splattered across the room, her life turns into a nightmare.

Maureen is a perfect suspect. She’s spent months in a mental hospital recovering from an emotional breakdown after repressed memories of sexual abuse by her father emerged.

Her family, especially her alcoholic mother Winnie, believe her allegations are a symptom — not the cause — of her mental illness. They believe it’s possible she did kill Douglas. So do Douglas’s wife and his mother, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) representing Scotland.

To clear herself, Maureen starts investigating on her own. She begins with the mental health clinic where she met Douglas and moves on to the hospital where she was treated. She learns about a women’s ward at the hospital where something so bad happened that all the staff were reassigned. The patient victims of this trauma were left with lifelong scars, both physical and emotional.

This, author Denise Mina’s debut novel, is brilliant in every way. The plot is tight and suspenseful. It is filled with distinctive, three-dimensional characters. The Glasgow setting is vivid and compelling.

Mina deals with multiple aspects of sexual abuse — within families and between patients and therapists. She covers layers of betrayals of trust in this book. The arrogance of the police officer investigating the case is a frightening counterpoint to what Maureen needs to do to bring the culprit to justice.

GARNETHILL, published in 1998, won the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasy Dagger for Best Crime Novel that year.

The events that follow GARNETHILL are covered in:

  • EXILE (2000). Maureen goes to work for the Glasgow Woman’s Aid (GWA), helping victims of domestic abuse get out and away. Her family still denies her sexual abuse by her father, she is haunted by a financial legacy from Douglas and she has a falling out with her best friend.  When a woman on GWA’s files is found murdered in London, Maureen flees south to find out what happened to her.
  • RESOLUTION (2001). Back in Glasgow, Maureen learns that her father is back in the city. She’s wondering whether to kill him or herself when a stall holder in the flea market where she works is brutally beaten and killed.
Mina has written a number of stand-alone novels as well, including THE LESS DEAD and THE LONG DROP as well as a series featuring Glasgow detective Alex Morrow that begins with STILL MIDNIGHT.

About the Author: Denise Mina (1966 – )

You can learn more about Denise Mina on her website.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here