Mina, Denise - 'The Field of Blood'
THE FIELD OF BLOOD is the first in a projected five book series featuring Glasgow reporter Patricia 'Paddy' Meehan. In THE FIELD OF BLOOD, it's 1981 and Paddy is eighteen, working as a 'copyboy' for the Scottish Daily News. She has a fiance and is part of a tight knit Catholic community.
A horrific story hits the newspapers when a toddler is found murdered. The police arrest two young boys and it turns out that Paddy’s fiance is the cousin of one of them. Paddy refuses to use her inside knowledge about the boy to write a story and get her first break as a journalist, as she knows what her family would say. However she misguidedly confides in one of the few female reporters, Heather Allen, who then steals the story. The repercussions of that act ruin Heather's life and drastically alter Paddy's future.
Paddy does some snooping around and provides an alternative explanation to what the police say happened but they refuse to listen.
Interspersed amongst Paddy's current fight against a miscarriage of justice, is the story of the real Paddy Meehan who was jailed for murder and then pardoned after a campaign by Ludovic Kennedy.
THE FIELD OF BLOOD starts off quite harrowing as the death of the toddler is carried out but after that it becomes an easy read. It's a long book but the story and the large font help the pages fly by. The whodunnit/mystery angle isn't particularly strong as Paddy manages to solve the case with ease but is unable to make anyone listen. The enormous strength of the book is the portrayal of Glasgow in the '80s and the religious discrimination, lack of jobs and the poor housing situation occuring at that time. In addition there is excellent characterisation especially with Paddy 'leaping off the page' and her colleagues, 'Father' Richards, Dr Pete and Heather Allen also leaving a strong impression.
The second book in the series, THE DEAD HOUR, came out in July.
Karen Meek, England