three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
13-Nov-Dec-2004
By: 
Denise Mina
user_rating: 
0

A-DeceptionLachlan Harriot, a non-practicing physician and would-be writer, is a content stay-at-home dad. Then his psychiatrist wife, Susie, is convicted of murdering one of her patients, a paroled serial killer named Andrew Gow. Frantic to clear Susie’s name, Lachlan searches her home office for proof of her innocence. What he finds makes him question not only Susie’s innocence, but also her very identity. Told via entries into Lachlan’s computer diary, his obsessive quest for the truth leads him down a trail of disturbing clues, carnal temptations, and more paths of deception.
Little, Brown. 313 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0316735922

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"Glaswegian novelist Mina—as though feeling liberated from her highly praised yet assiduously downbeat Garnethill trilogy—has written a stand-alone shocker that’s exhilarating in its energetic, witty sordidness." Ken Tucker

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Mina executes a stunning shift in style and tone to come up with an entirely different perspective on her recurring theme—that domestic dysfunction breeds criminal violence. … Without neglecting the puzzle component … Mina makes dazzling use of her narrator’s voice." Marilyn Stasio

Chicago Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Although the narrative engine that moves Mina’s book along is strong and leads up to what they call a blockbuster finale, it’s the twists and turns of Lachlan’s mind as he struggles with deceiving us about [his wife’s] deception that really make this a most satisfying reading experience." Dick Adler

People Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Presented as a sequence of Lachlan’s diary entries, Deception is as much an intriguing character study as it is an expertly plotted mystery. … Mina, a Scot whose books have been described as ‘Tartan Noir,’ impressively balances a novel of unnerving suspense with the uncommon pleasure of being inside Lachlan’s unreliable, charmingly vain and appallingly funny head." Ellen Shapiro

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Deception is a character study. … an entertaining and engrossing Rubik’s Cube of a novel." David Lazarus

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Mina’s novel is a smart example of the crime novel as postmodern puzzle, a work that coolly offers to match wits with the unwary reader and is not likely to lose the game." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Deception marks a departure from Mina’s earlier work, award-winning crime novels set in the dark underbelly of Glasgow. Most critics agree that her use of the "unreliable narrator" is masterful. She slowly reveals that all is not as it seems; even self-deception abounds. As Mina peels away the onion, the househusband with tenacious loyalty to his convicted wife has his own questionable agenda. Deception keeps you guessing, yet manages to be much more than a mere whodunit, thanks to Mina’s strong psychological characterizations. These create a story, as it unfolds in the form of the protagonist’s diary, which is "car-crash irresistible" (Washington Post).

Also by the Author

Garnethill | Denise Mina (1999): Mina’s debut won the John Creasey Memorial Award for Best First Crime Novel. A woman awakens to find her abusive psychologist boyfriend tied to a chair with his throat slashed.