three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
19-Nov-Dec-2005
By: 
Denise Mina
user_rating: 
0

A-FieldBloodPatricia "Paddy" Meehan works as a copygirl at Glasgow’s Daily News, with the hope of one day becoming a reporter. In the meantime, she spends her days refilling colleagues’ beer mugs. Paddy’s the first to admit that, though an Irish Catholic, she’s always had trouble discerning right from wrong. Then, she gets drawn into a grisly case—the brutal murder of a toddler by two young boys. A new scoop on this much-covered crime could possibly launch Paddy’s real journalism career. The trouble is, her scoop has several ethical complications. But she’s determined to solve the case, no matter what.
Little, Brown. 368 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0316735930

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Every once in a while, an author creates a stunningly original character. . . . This is a beautifully written novel about the evanescence of truth in a world where guilt and innocence are rendered in shades of gray." Hallie Ephron

Evening Times [Glasgow] 4 of 5 Stars
"Mina has obviously done her research—she even braved the old Press Bar in Albion Street—but things have changed and journalists no longer have time to fit in work round a day in the pub. . . . This is a powerful read and utterly menacing. Scarily good."

The Herald [Glasgow] 4 of 5 Stars
"A gamine individualist, Mina’s work combines a dark sense of humour, cast-iron stomach and unfailing compassion. . . . Paddy Meehan—first seen here back in the 1980s when she is a copygirl on a newspaper—promises to become the sharpest brain fictional Glasgow has seen for a long time." Rosemary Goring

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As Ms. Mina grippingly reveals the implications of these events, it’s clear that she is something more than a crime writer. Like Dennis Lehane with Mystic River, she describes a close-knit, secretive community in a substantial novel that happens to be centered on a crime." Janet Maslin

Providence Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Mina is out to transform the mystery genre so it serves the deeper mysteries of modern life." Tom D’Evelyn

South FL Sun-Sentinel 3.5 of 5 Stars
"An atmosphere of oppression blankets Field of Blood as the author contrasts two secretive communities wary of outsiders—the newsroom and Paddy’s working-class neighborhood. . . . Mina should continue to garner an American audience that has been captured by her fellow Scottish expert crime writers Val McDermid and Ian Rankin." Oline H. Cogdill

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The tone, typical of a surprising number of good hardboiled thrillers coming out of Scotland these days, is tough and unflinching. . . . Field of Blood works as a thriller and as a bildungsroman, and that’s a rare accomplishment." Harper Barnes

Critical Summary

From the author of the acclaimed Garnethill trilogy comes the much-praised debut of a projected five-part series starring Paddy Meehan. In this hardboiled Scottish crime thriller, Mina takes on journalistic ethics, newsroom culture, sexism, and coming-of-age dilemmas. Critics agree that her well-rounded characters, including the nuanced Paddy, fit seamlessly into her compelling descriptions of a tight working-class community in the early 1980s. But it’s not all dark; Mina peppers her frightening tale with empathy and humor. A couple of distractions may deter readers (i.e., the doings of a Scottish criminal also named Paddy Meehan), but critics agree that this new series will give Ian Rankin and Val McDermid a run for their money.

Also by the Author

Garnethill (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.