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Gods and Beasts

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What follows is equally impressionistic, a series of images ricocheting off a stunned consciousness. Martin registers a paramedic kneeling before him, the hospital where he and the child are "[p]ushed in a canvas wheelchair, through the A&E waiting room, not very clean, not very nice." Then a cubicle: "Time passed. Clocks ticked and trolleys rolled. Nurses shoes squeaked by beyond the curtain." And soon the departure of the boy with his distraught mother, followed by the arrival of DS Alex Morrow and DC Harris, whose questions tether and calm Martin's unruly recollections.

It is gradually apparent that the shooting was coincidental but not random – the gunman and the grandfather seemed to recognize each other – and that Martin himself is a conundrum. An American who sounds Scottish, is well educated, tattooed, and a compulsive runner, Martin is familiar with guns, gifted with accents, and haunted by details – all of which makes him an invaluable yet oddly suspect witness. He is also a stray exotic on the harsh, treacherously shifting terrain that Mina so masterfully depicts.

Populated by criminals of varying rank, by cops and politicians of shaky integrity, and by the battered casualties of violence and neglect, Mina's Glasgow is an intimate place where favor-swapping and palm-greasing blur the line between legal and illegal. Where, indeed, DS Alex Morrow's half brother is the "celebrity thug" Danny McGrath. "[T]hey were part of each other, deeply," Morrow knows. "She became a police officer because Danny was a thug".   

Nothing escapes Morrow's eye, least of all herself, and as Mina deftly joins the overlapping edges of a satisfying plot, her depiction of characters reading each other – and often manipulating each other – is as thrilling as any action scene.

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