Thursday, April 22, 2010
Denise Mina, Still Midnight
I finished Denise Mina's newest crime novel, Still Midnight, a few days ago and don't quite know what I think of it (I'd love to hear other opinions). Her heroine here is a police sergeant in Glasgow, a woman in her 30s with some family difficulties and life experience. But especially in the early chapters, she seems insecure, floundering amid the male-dominated police force and more concerned with rivalries than focusing on the job. Later, her character solidifies a bit, but she seems very much in the mold of the Paddy Meehan character in Mina's previous series rather than someone with the career of a police sergeant already established personally and professionally. However, as a police procedural Still Midnight is interesting and unusual (in who gets killed, among other things), and Mina's handling of a family of Muslims at the center of a kidnapping is very nuanced and effective. Each member of the family emerges as an individual, with his or her own relationship to the family, the faith, and their country (most were born in Scotland, after a complicated family trajectory leading from Pakistan to Uganda to Glasgow). The ending (I promise I'm not giving anything away) has something of a fairy-tale quality, something like the end of the 1993 Tony Scott film True Romance (written by Quentin Tarrantino--a noir (and violent, though not on the level of Reservoir Dogs) classic, something to look for if you aren't familiar with it, and with a distinctive conclusion). I'm left with an ambivalent feeling about Still Midnight--I enjoyed it, but with some reservations about the central character's oddly immature character. Thoughts, anyone?