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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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8693114,845 (3.82)131
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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I found this book and the main character really engaging. I was turned onto it from an NPR interview with the author, where she talks about using Glasgow as an inspiration for her work.

This is a straight forward murder mystery with a unique protagonist- an ex-mental patient. She has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her father, and some members of her family, specifically her mother and a sister, refuse to believe her and that sets off a breakdown. It also throws all of her future dealings with people into suspicion since they can always doubt that she understands truth from reality.

I was a bit unhappy with the climax of the book, as I felt it was a bit choppy. And unless this is the beginning of a series, I was left with a lot of questions that I feel should have been addressed.

For a first novel, I think it was a tremendous effort, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries. ( )
  HardcoverHearts | Mar 24, 2018 |
Maureen O’Donnell is an abuse survivor in a relationship with a psychiatrist at the same hospital where she is receiving treatment for her continuing trauma. After a night out with a friend she tumbles straight into bed and wakes up in the morning to find her (married) boyfriend tied up in her living room with his throat slit. The police, the man’s wife and politician mother all believe Maureen, or her drug dealing brother, did it. In an attempt to make sure her name is cleared Maureen begins to investigate the crime herself.

The proximal subject matter, sexual abuse in institutions, is an important issue but I am astonished that this book could appear on anyone’s list of best or favourites as Mina’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. There is a profusion of telling not showing plus acres of unconvincing dialogue. Chapter titles tend to be people’s names but quite often those people barely appear within them. Every time there is a police interview we are told about the tape recording protocol. It is as if Mina believes the reader must be shown every little detail of her hero’s experience. We really don’t. In what must surely be a breach of police good practice one of the investigating officers conveniently gives her privileged information.

The novel is set in Glasgow but the city itself seems absent. None of its vibrancy or character comes across. Also there are constant references to the Byres Road, the Great Western Road, the Maryhill Road. No Glaswegian I have met has ever mentioned a street by name and used the definite article. It’s always just Byres Road, Great Western Road, Maryhill Road. No “the”.

Yes, the purpose of this sort of thing is the unfolding of the plot and the unravelling of “whodunit” and in this respect it just about meets the need. Yet even here there was a hiccup. Quite near the novel’s end Maureen is told the name of the murderer by one of her interviewees but Mina does not let the reader know it at that point. I don’t read much crime fiction but I would submit such an attempt to prolong suspense artificially is unfair on the reader. (That the murderer’s identity could be worked out fairly easily vitiated that attempt in any case.)

The more the book progressed the harder my suspension of disbelief became. Towards the end I wasn’t believing any of it.

Moreover the book is riddled with punctuation errors (see Pedant’s corner.) The edition I read was a reprint; the latest of numerous editions. (Goodreads lists well over ten.) How can these errors not have been spotted and rooted out long before this? Does no-one care about quality control? Some might say these are niggling concerns but when they stop a reader in his/her tracks and force a line, sentence or paragraph to be re-read to decipher the sense it becomes non-trivial.

This one is for die-hard crime fans only. ( )
  jackdeighton | Aug 18, 2017 |
Loved the strong main character, her struggle to escape from a troubled past and her determination to protect other vulnerable women. I also liked the fact that not all the men in the book were unlikeable gits. There's strong language, a lot of substance-bashing and a theme of sexual abuse: the story is powerful and moving and seems to capture Glasgow's seedier side really well. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
This crime novel (not really a mystery, closer to a procedural) has a large cast of characters. While focusing mainly on a few, there are quite a few people that are weaving in and out of the story. Around the third chapter I had to make a cheat sheet to keep up.
Most of the characters are damaged in some way; by alcohol, drugs, rape, abuse, neglect. This is not a light, breezy "cozy" novel. More Lisbeth Salandar than Agatha Raisin
The novel was well written, the characters believable, and the pace was brisk. I enjoyed it and will be reading the next in the series. ( )
  thart528 | Aug 6, 2016 |
I had heard a lot about Denise Mina, all excellent reviews so I had high hopes for Garnet Hill. I did like the book and would give it a rating of 3.5 stars. Not a book to blow off your socks, but a pleasant diversion nonetheless. The murderer is easy to deduce, but having said that, I look forward to reading the next book in the series. ( )
  Icewineanne | Aug 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Denise Minaprimary authorall editionscalculated
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, in a tale of exploitation of mental patients, Maureen O'Donnell wakes up to find her therapist boyfriend dead in the middle of her living room and herself a prime suspect. Desperate to clear her name and get to the truth, Maureen traces rumors about a similar murder at a local psychiatric hospital, uncovering a trail of deception and repressed scandal that could exonerate her --or make her the next victim.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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