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Still Midnight    by Denise Mina order for
Still Midnight
by Denise Mina
Order:  USA  Can
McArthur, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Denise Mina's Still Midnight opens on a very inept, even funny, home invasion of a nice family bungalow in the Glasgow suburbs. There's an accidental shooting (unfortunately of lovely teen Aleesha, who caught one villain's eye) and the family patriarch is kidnapped. The trio of bad guys (special ops wannabe Eddy whose scheme it is, his friend Pat, and Pat's young junkie cousin Malkie) continue to bumble their way through the misadventures that follow. Eddy constantly broods over the departure of his wife and kids, his eye 'forever fixed on what he didn't have.'

Readers realize early on in the story that something is eating away at DS Alex Morrow, something much more than her irritation with her disapproving superior DCI MacKechnie and his prodigy, her peer DS Grant Bannerman. More than the secret she's keeping, of her relationship to her criminal half-brother Danny McGrath. Alex's deep angst, anger 'leaking from her like water through a sock', and the problems she creates for herself because of it, provide a dissonant counterpoint to the villains' amusing incompetence. Alex is furious when Bannerman is made prime on the case, and is determined to solve it herself.

Aside from what's disturbing Alex (and why she's avoiding her home and her husband Brian who 'had become the chaos she was running from'), other immediate questions pull reader interest through the mystery. The kidnappers asked for Bob or maybe Rob (there's no such person in this Asian clan) and demanded a ransom of two million pounds. Was it a case of mistaken identity and if not, where would this middle class family get their hands on so much money? And why are they all lying to the police?

Of course, Denise Mina ties up all her plot threads in the end, in unusual ways and with continuing elements of comedy. Though Still Midnight is not my favorite of the author's excellent body of works, it does introduce an appealing heroine in DS Alex Morrow, with her foot-in-mouth problem and link to the criminal underworld. I hope she'll be back for some encores.

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