four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
25-Nov-Dec-2006
By: 
Denise Mina
user_rating: 
0

A-The Dead HourIn Mina’s A Field of Blood ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2005), young cub reporter Paddy Mehan got involved in a grisly murder. This sequel, next in a planned five-part series, opens with Paddy, now 21 and working the night shift for the Scottish Daily News, investigating a domestic disturbance in a wealthy part of town. Struggling to help support her family during the hard times of the 1980s, Paddy accepts blood-stained money from a suspect in the case who, in turn, requests her silence. Paddy, of course, cannot remain quiet. The next day, the battered woman, a political activist and lawyer, turns up dead. Jeopardizing her career, Paddy reports the bribe and starts to connect a series of deaths.
Little, Brown. 352 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 0316735949

Wall Street Journal 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Surely Paddy Meehan is the most unlikely, and most realistic, investigator in recent crime fiction. … The Dead Hour is some kind of magnificent." Tom Nolan

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"What makes the book so compelling are not these larger issues, but the way Mina brings Paddy and her world to life, building classic mystery tension without sacrificing personal detail. In all her insecurity, Paddy is achingly real." Clea Simon

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Along with a matter-of-fact, behind-the-scenes look at investigative reporting, Mina’s narrative lends an earthy, down-and-dirty sense of reality to the suburban crime . … The Dead Hour is an intense and entertaining work of crime fiction that feels so real it’ll leave dirt underneath the reader’s fingernails." Dorman T. Shindler

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"While each of these books is hitched to a crime story, neither is a genre piece: Ms. Mina writes inviting, colorful novels that happen to involve some degree of chicanery. … In a book whose mystery plot is its least surprising aspect … The Dead Hour takes its heroine a long way." Janet Maslin

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"If you don’t read crime novels, Denise Mina is your reason to change. The Scottish author’s prize-winning books involve murder, but they are also beautifully observed, detailed drawings of emotion and experience that closely examine our failings." Jane Dickinson

Philadelphia Inquirer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Mina has lots of intriguing characters bumping around in The Dead Hour and takes her own sweet time in revealing how they are connected. But her narrative instincts are so strong, you end up savoring the wait." David Hiltbrand

Critical Summary

Critics agree that Paddy Meehan may just be one of the most fascinating investigators in recent crime fiction—and that The Dead Hour is a gripping sequel to The Field of Blood. Purportedly about spousal abuse, the novel also features a secondary story about a woman on the run, ruminations on human nature and experience, and depictions of class and religious tensions during the Thatcher era. Paddy has evolved since the last novel; reviewers identified with her moral uncertainty and praised her hard-won confidence. The other Glasgow characters are equally lively, though their regional dialect confused some American critics. The novel’s cliffhanger will make readers anxious for the third installment’s arrival.

Also by the Author

Deception (2004): 4 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2004. Mina has written plenty of stand-alone works; Deception is a strong one. When a psychiatrist is accused of murdering a serial killer, after having an affair with him, her husband searches for clues to her innocence. Instead, he seems to find plenty of nasty secrets, though his own reliability is in question.