47. The Dead Hour: A Novel by Denise Mina (2006)
Investigative journalist Patricia ‘Paddy’ Meehan had always thought that she would be further along on her career path after spending three years in her chosen field. Yet, even three years after breaking a big story, Paddy is still working the perpetual night shift with her newspaper – The Scottish Daily News. She’s still chasing police calls for that one story which will finally promote her out of the solitary, twilight existence that makes mountains of candy bars and multiple cups of coffee practically a medical necessity. With her father and brothers chronically unemployed and her family perilously short of money, Paddy desperately needs the work.
Responding with the police to a particular late-night call, Paddy arrives at an elegant villa. The loud noise complaint called into the police seems to be fairly run-of-the-mill to her; especially when the domestic dispute that prompted such a call seems to be calming down. As a matter of fact, a domestic disturbance in such a wealthy Scottish suburb doesn’t seem all that unusual an occurrence to Paddy – at first. The police officers actually don’t seem all that concerned by the situation before them; letting the man who answers the door off with just a warning to keep the noise down.
Paddy can see that the elegant blonde woman standing in the shadows of the doorway is bleeding from an apparent head injury. But the woman also clearly doesn’t want any help; and the well-dressed, ingratiating man at the front door assures Paddy that everything is just fine and that she should leave. Paddy wonders how the police were so easily convinced to leave the area after issuing just a warning. She soon has her answer when the man slips a significant amount of cash into her hand; asking her to make sure that she keeps any mention of the incident, whatever it is, out of the press. Then he firmly closes the door in her face.
The next morning Paddy happens to see a television news report. The lead news story is absolutely horrific: the blonde woman’s body has been discovered. She was murdered; brutally beaten, tortured and left to die. Far from being the spoiled trophy wife Paddy had assumed her to be, the victim turns out to be a prosecution lawyer with a social conscience.
Bewildered as to why the woman wouldn’t accept any help and leave the house when she could, Paddy begins to make connections that no one else can see. When she witnesses the body of a suicide victim being pulled from the river shortly afterwards, Paddy suspects that the two deaths are linked in some way. Paddy is determined to follow her reporter’s instincts all the way with this particular story; it’s exactly the type of story that will make her or break her…or kill her.
Denise Mina is a new author for me, and this is the first book that I’ve ever read by her. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I found myself really connecting with the main character, Paddy. She was a feisty, capable person, a hardworking woman in a man’s world who doesn’t suffer fools kindly. She’s not afraid to call things as she sees them; and she is quite willing to go head to head with whomever it is that she suspects is in the wrong. She is also vulnerable, fallible, and she makes mistakes; yet she also does her utmost to fix those mistakes to the best of her ability.
In my opinion, this was a fast-paced and very involved mystery. I found that I really had to concentrate while reading because with all the intricate twists and turns in the plot, this book really kept me on my toes with regards to potential suspects. Overall, I would give this book a definite A! and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
A! – (90-95%)