Mina, Denise - 'The Last Breath'
When one of her best friends and past lovers is murdered, Paddy Meehan is flung into a tangle of confused motives and difficult relationships. Terry Hewitt is found shot dead in a ditch, naked, and as the executor of his will the police soon end up at Paddy's door. His death starts a chain of events which cover issues around religion, conflict and violence.
As a reporter Paddy's loyalties are divided between catching a good story and getting revenge. She starts following the clues provided by a set of photographs Terry left, which appear to be important to unravelling the motive for his murder. Links with the IRA and even more sinister organisations start to emerge which puts her, her friends and her son into danger. Another death, apparently covered up by the police, confirms that there are not many people that she can trust.
Trying to retain her job, get a pay rise and threatening important members of the IRA elite starts to become difficult, especially while guarding the news story of the year, a child murderer released back into the community. Even more stressful she has to juggle her unusual relationship with the father of her son and her ambivalence towards her Irish Catholic background.
Denise Mina writes a good narrative with a hard edge and reality to it which draws you in. Her main characters have a depth that helps them stand out from the page. Paddy is headstrong, but the family dimension gives her a softer side and facilitates an interesting set of sub-stories which offer a strong contrast to the grim reality of the Anglo-Irish tensions which underpin the main plot.
The Garnethill trilogy demonstrated Denise Mina's skills at writing difficult characters and complex emotional situations and making them believable. THE LAST BREATH shows that she is still fearless about tacking challenging areas and creating credible characters within them.
Amanda Brown, England