"Still Midnight," is a new British mystery by increasingly well-known Scottish-born author Denise Mina. She is the writer of the Paddy Meehan trilogy, Slip of the Knife: A Novel; The Dead Hour; and Field of Blood, as well as the Garnethill Trilogy, centering on Maureen O'Donnell, Garnethill; Exile; and Resolution. So she must now be considered a leading practitioner, in company with Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, of the Scottish crime writing school that has come to be known as "tartan noir," for its high level of violence, sheer bloody-mindedness, and grisly, witty humor. In "Still Midnight," the author introduces us to Alex Morrow, a detective sergeant in the Glasgow police: I've no idea if this book is meant as a standalone, or the start of a new series, which I for one would find very welcome. At any rate, Mina burst on the scene with her debut novel, "Garnethill" that won the John Creasey Memorial Award; she was born in the vicinity of Glasgow, where all her novels have so far been set. As a child, her father's work took her all over the world: she has, since her return to that city, worked in the field of health care, studied law at the University of Glasgow, and taught criminal law and criminology. In the book at hand, Morrow, who is immersed in a complicated marriage, and similar situation at work, is called to a puzzling crime scene. In a quiet city suburb, two armed men have invaded the modest home of a family of Indian subcontinent origins, by way of exile from Uganda. The gunmen are demanding a man who apparently doesn't live there, and never has. Before they leave, they will shoot one family member, and will take another with them as a hostage, for whom they are demanding a great deal of money. The stolen van they used will soon turn up, burnt out. Where's the hostage, the paterfamilias? Morrow's detection will take her on a tour of the local underworld, Glasgow's famous `hard men,' the usual sex, drugs, racism, and rock and roll. Once again, the author manages to steer her tale to a reasonable, surprising and satisfying ending, as she tells it with verve and skill, in the somewhat dark and violent way that "tartan noir" predicts. And she gives us a very solid mystery, too: mystery lovers could do a lot worse. Any darkness in the book is well-flavored with Mina's outstanding love for and knowledge of her city, and dry wit.
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