meilufay’s #CBR4 review #71 Garnethill by Denise Mina
Denise Mina is getting lots of publicity right now for her graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and after reading Garnethill I can tell you she is absolutely the perfect person to adapt that book. Like the more famous Swedish series, Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy (of which this is the first volume) unblinkingly takes on social problems in contemporary Scotland and features a troubled young heroine, a woman with a history of mental problems and sexual abuse. But whereas The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is long and filled with discursive passages on a variety of topics, Garnethill is a tightly plotted little gem, a purer exemplar of the crime novel.
The main character of Garnethill, Maureen O’Donnell, was sexually abused by her father when she was a child. Her toxic, alcoholic mother, and some of her siblings, do not believe that Maureen was truly abused (despite the fact that they found in her locked in a closet, bleeding between her legs). After having a nervous breakdown and being institutionalized, Maureen is getting by as best she can. She lives in the worst part of town, and her job is unexciting at best, but the fact that she’s managing at all is a victory. Until one morning she wakes up to find her married boyfriend has been brutally murdered. Maureen is a prime suspect in the case; her sordid family history, her own mental problems and the fact that her brother is a drug dealer all make her look guilty to the patronizing police officer assigned to the murder case. But although Maureen is victimized, she is no victim. She is smart and she quickly realizes that the only person who is getting to get her out of trouble is herself, which is precisely what she proceeds to do.
I could not put down this book – it was compulsively readable. It’s smartly written and sometimes laugh out loud funny and peopled with characters who feel real. I highly recommend it.