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					" Exile,"second book in Denise Mina's acclaimed "Garnethill" trilogy, followed upon the
earlier book's award-winning heels, for Garnethill; upon its publication in 1998, won the
John Creasy Memorial Award for Best First Crime Novel. Mina was born in 1966 in East
Kilbride, Lanarkshire, a suburban district near Glasgow; as her father was an oil engineer,
she was moved, internationally, 21 times in childhood. She dropped out of school at
sixteen, got a job: she worked in meat packing plants, as a waitress/bartender, all over the
place, before returning to school, becoming a lawyer, and collecting some other post-
graduate degrees, as well. So she was able to teach at university for several years before
she was able to become a full-time writer. She's still a relatively young writer, with a
relatively short career, and she writes the toughest Scottish-style tartan noir as her
birthright. Tartan noir? As exemplified by Ian Rankin, its dean, and best-selling mystery
author in the United Kingdom, it's blacker than average, more bloody-minded and
violent, as many people consider the Scots to be, but still leavened by that sly Scottish
humor.

"Exile" is set in some of the hardest neighborhoods of Glasgow, among some of its
hardest people - and Glasgow was long known, internationally, as site of some of the
hardest slums in the developed world -- "the Gorbals." It revisits the disorderly life of
Maureen O'Donnell, thrown further off by the return of her abusive father, Michael, to
the city. As if that weren't enough, she is being stalked by mail by former psychologist
Angus Farrell, who is facing trial for the gruesome murder, in Maureen's flat, of her lover
Douglas Brady, also a psychologist. Both men formerly employed in the asylum where
Maureen had been sent while in crisis over the reawakening memories of the abusive
father, Michael: they really shouldn't have been messing with her, or any other of their
patients. However, Maureen is now working at the office of a Glasgow woman's shelter
when in comes Ann Harris, severely beaten, with two broken ribs, stinking of alcohol.
Two weeks later, Harris is found, abused/ beaten to death in a mattress in the Thames
River, in London. Suspicion is bound to fall on her hapless husband Jimmie, struggling
with no money and their four kids. He's cousin to Maureen's best friend Leslie, and the
friends think he didn't do it. So Maureen takes off for London - if nothing else, it gets her
out of her troubles for a while, to see what she can find. She's out of her depth in the
mega city, but our Maureen is resolute.

The novel moves fast, and the writing is nothing short of scorching. Yes, there are a lot of
scary characters, and a lot of violence, but in Mina's hands, it's almost poetry. She's
unequaled at getting the ambiance of her native city, once famed for its shipbuilding, now
on the post-industrial dust heap, on paper. It's all there, the black, dark cold Clyde River,
once so important to shipbuilders, still the city's shivery spine (and, not so long ago, as a
person long fascinated by the city, I spent a freezing July week in a hotel on the Clyde's
banks). The fearsome climate. Even, quite likely partially as the result of that climate, the
typical destructive Scottish lifestyle, also pointed out by Rankin - too much to drink, too
much to smoke, too many sweets, and an early death rate unrivaled in the western world.
Library Journal said, "A good suggestion for anyone who appreciates their mysteries
dark, while the female bonding should appeal especially to fans of the Val McDermid
mysteries." I say this book reads as though burnt on the map of Glasgow.
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posted:7/11/2010
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