Monday, January 4, 2010

*Exile, by Denise Mina (the Garnethill Trilogy, Book 2)

my edition

Exile is the second installment of Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy, which begins with Garnethill and ends with Resolution (which I have not yet read).  If you do not read Garnethill prior to this book, you will be a bit lost, both in terms of characters, and in terms of the main character’s (Maureen O’Donnell) background. And this is critical. These are excellent books, and I most highly recommend them.

As the action begins, Maureen, who works at a battered women’s shelter, is drawn into the disappearance of Ann Harris, a resident of the place, who told everyone that her husband Jimmy constantly beat and abused her. Quickly she learns that the London police have discovered a disfigured body wearing a piece of Ann's jewelry, and that they are out to find her killer. Maureen meets up with Jimmy and realizes that he’s just a quiet man trying to take care of four small children and wasn’t involved in Ann’s disappearance.  However, if she doesn’t figure out what happened to Ann, more than likely it will be Jimmy that’s off to prison.  Her desire to help Jimmy sets her on a very dangerous path where she will meet up with some very rough characters who aren’t so happy that a foreigner has come asking questions.

But aside from the crime element, Maureen as a person is worth the reading time alone. She’s got a lot on her shoulders and struggles inwardly with her past as well as her extremely dysfunctional family. Now she’s got new worries that pick up where the first book (Garnethill) left off.  I really enjoy her character and I’m really sad there are only three books about her. I also enjoy Denise Mina’s writing…it is excellent, and not just in the sense that she’s a good writer of crime fiction. She can write, and after I finish this trilogy I will be reading anything I can of hers.

Highly recommended, but as noted above, please do start with the first in the series.  On to the third book, and very soon.  If you like UK crime fiction and strong women characters, you will really like this book. This is no ordinary “mystery” series by any stretch of the imagination.

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