Saturday, 12 September 2015

Exile - Denise Mina



Exile is the second of Mina's 'Garnethill' trilogy. The first, not surprisingly, is Garnethill.  The heroine, Maureen, is a damaged, abused young woman with a drug-dealing brother - not unlike Alex Morrow in the later novels.  The setting would seem to be Glasgow, as it should be in Tartan Noir, but actually about half the book takes place in London, which is a tremendous mistake, especially since the people Maureen mixes with there, even the copper with the Met who eventually listens to her, are Glaswegian,

It's a second novel which Mina made doubly hard for herself as the second in a series.  One of Mina's themes is that Scottish women have traditionally been abused by their men.  She wants to say that oppression has made them strong and feisty, a positive message.  Sadly, she undermines herself at every turn, because two of the sleaziest baddies are women and all the white knights who ride to Maureen's rescue are men - Scottish men, at that.

Exile is highly readable.  It is well plotted but, in this Orion paperback, poorly proof-read.  There are far too many characters, especially the ill-defined secondary women, and I often had to pause and wonder who is this when they reappeared much later.  There is one exception, though - Kilty Goldfarb, a great fun character who has no real purpose and has apparently just been plonked in the story to add some much needed light.  Or perhaps I was beguiled by the fact that she has the name of a well known firm of solicitors in Leicester West, now I believe defunct.  Spooky, eh?

In summary, not Mina's best by a long chalk (for me, that remains The End of the Wasp Season) but still better than many of its peers.

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