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Garnethill by Denise Mina

Garnethill (1998)

by Denise Mina

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Garnethill trilogy (1)

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Garnethill is the first in a trilogy of books featuring Maureen O'Donnell, a reluctant PI in Glasgow. She recently returned to work at her dead-end job in a ticket booth after a stint in a psychiatric hospital. After a night spent drinking with her friend Leslie, who runs a battered women's shelter, she finds her lover Douglas, a psychiatrist, murdered in her living room. She is sort of a suspect in parts of the book, but basically she decides-- foolishly at times-- to investigate Douglas's murder on her own without help from her younger brother Liam and Leslie, both of whom are very protective of her.

It's a book with heavy subject matter besides murder: Maureen was hospitalized after recovering memories of being abused by her father, the crimes involved women institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals, and Maureen's family displays quite an array of dysfunction in reaction to Maureen's abuse. Thank goodness for the close relationships Maureen has in the book or the book would be exceedingly grim: her friends are funny and supportive, and Maureen herself has learned some productive coping mechanisms that help her as she is investigates the crime further.

My only quibble with the book is the rogue-PI turn the book takes: I've read that story before many times, and it seems a bit out of character for Maureen. The world the characters live in and their relationships is the strongest part of the book. I'm looking forward to reading lots more by Denise Mina. This book is the perfect antidote to the tortured-male-antihero books/shows I'm growing a bit bored of.
  rkreish | Mar 13, 2015 |
I read this book in one day primarily because of Denise Mina's unflinching, unforgiving and brutally honest portrayal of a myriad of social issues--all wrapped up nicely in an absorbing mystery told from a new point of view.

Maureen O'Donnell, who only recently was released from a mental health clinic and scrapes by as ticket vendor in Glasgow, didn't need to wake up after a night of drinking with a friend to see her boyfriend tied to a chair in the living room with his throat slit and his head barely hanging on to his body. But she did, and after the shock wears off, quickly realizes she's a suspect.

Maureen, despite her struggles with the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her father, is smart, funny and rough edged, making her a good foil for DIC MeEwan.

Mina puts a refreshing (though at times almost difficult to read) perspective on mysteries by letting the reader see the chain of events through Maureen's eyes as opposed to the inspector's.

And Maureen isn't pretty and perfect. She smokes, drinks too much, swears and (more often than not with terrible timing) tells it like she sees it. She doesn't understand everything about why the police are pawing through her life (though she has a good idea, and isn't a fan of it), has an alcoholic mother, a drug-dealing brother, and two sisters with their own issues.

Aside from her brother, they all think that not only is she going to have another psychotic breakdown, but that she did it.

Helped by friends she made while in the mental institution and her best friend Lizzie, a worker at a shelter for battered women, Maureen gets closer to a shocking truth.

If anything about this book sounds familiar, than I have failed in this review. Nothing, not the characters, the narrative style, the setting or the point of view, has ever been done in the contemporary mystery genre before. ( )
1 vote Shutzie27 | Feb 2, 2014 |
I could not put this book down.
Denise Mina's first book is wonderfully dark, has all the grittiness of a Glasgow alleyway, ties in a dysfunctional and abusive family dynamic that plays into the story effectively and adds tension. Maureen is a tremendously likeable character, flawed and damaged but good at heart, and we are cheering for her throughout the book, hoping against hope things work out and she figures out the crime before she gets locked away.
My heart broke a bit at the end, as the family acted as families often do, but I knew Maureen would somehow be okay.
Warning: may be triggering for some who have experienced family sexual abuse
( )
  Dabble58 | Jan 1, 2014 |
Loved Maureen so much. Now I have to gear up and see if I can handle what comes her way in the next two stories! ( )
  MelissaZD | Jan 1, 2014 |
Brutally honest depiction of mental illness, poverty and domestic abuse. Much more about those societal issues than about the murder mystery. ( )
  LauraBLough | Dec 26, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Denise Minaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brondum, KlavsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guillén, EscarlataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hangasmäki, MerviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Høverstad, Torstein BuggeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kampmann, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loubet, PascalTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snel, MariëllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Styron, DorisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Unnerstad, BoelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Für meine Mutter Edith
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Maureen dried her eyes impatiently, lit a cigarette, walked over to the bedroom window, and threw open the heavy red curtains.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316016780, Paperback)

Garnethill (the name of a bleak Glasgow suburb) won the John Creasey Memorial Award for Best First Crime Novel--the British equivalent of the Edgar. It's a book that crackles with mordant Scottish wit and throbs with the pain of badly treated mental illness, managing to be both truly frightening and immensely exhilarating at the same time.

Maureen O'Donnell, surely one of the most unlikely crime solvers in recent history, comes from a family so seriously dysfunctional that it deserves a television series of its own. Her mother is an overly dramatic alcoholic who "could scene-steal from an eclipse"; her brother Liam is a bumbling drug dealer; and the black sheep of the family is a sister who went to London and became a Thatcherite. The troubled but gutsy Maureen decides to dump her boyfriend, Douglas--an abusive (and married) psychologist she met while a patient at a sex-abuse clinic. After a night of drinking with a friend who's a social worker, Maureen wakes up to find that Douglas has been tied to a kitchen chair in her flat with his throat slashed. As someone with both a motive and a history of mental illness, Maureen is the most likely suspect--until a second, similar murder occurs that links the crimes to a local psychiatric hospital. Denise Mina, who has a background in health care, law, and criminology, is definitely a writer to watch. --Dick Adler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In Glasgow, Maureen O'Donnell is accused of murdering a doctor who had sex with her while she was in a mental institution. She did not do it and to clear her name she has to find the real killer. A tale of exploitation of mental patients.

» see all 2 descriptions

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