Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina

Gods and Beasts begins with a shocking murder, and continues to get dirtier.gods and beasts

A masked man robs a post office in Glasgow, and then mows down a grandfather who strangely enough helps the assailant with his deed before he is killed.  The main witness and protector of the man’s grandson is Martin, a wildly tattooed American whose background is hard to trace.

Cut to the life of police detective Alex Morrow, a new mother of twins who is assigned this grisly case.  She has too little time with her family, and precious little time to waste with the shenanigans of others, but it turns out that some of her subordinates are not keeping it clean.  As her story progresses, she finds a dwindling number of people, cops or otherwise, that she can trust.

A third entwining story concerns Kenny Gallagher, a local politician who outwardly is all charms and calm, but has a failing marriage and too many skeletons in the closet to further his career.  A chance slur at a fundraiser prompts him to file suit against a local newspaper, but can he back up his sterling reputation versus their claims that he had an affair with an underage campaign worker?

Past these pressing issues is the livelihood and safety of the dead man’s family.  Martin, after his brief encounter with the grandson, meets the child’s mother by chance and gets involved with the family’s welfare.  Strangely enough, he has the wherewithal to do so.

Enter the crazed world of Denise Mina’s Glasgow, Scotland, where mobsters and politicos intermingle, confused slackers handle drug money and fancy cars, and the strangest looking ones have perhaps the best intentions.  Gods and Beasts is an unrelenting read, doesn’t have a pat ending, and needs a strong stomach.  If you like your murder mysteries this way, Mina doesn’t disappoint.  The setting and dialect may take some getting used to, but if you have been in a rut with locales, it helps to step out with something different.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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