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Deception    by Denise Mina order for
by Denise Mina
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Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I read and enjoyed Denise Mina's raw noir thriller Resolution. This new novel, Deception, is quite different in style, though just as dark in mood. It's (appropriately since one protagonist is a psychiatrist) a psychological thriller, in which tension and questions build steadily to shocking answers.

The narrator is Lachlan Harriot, loving (though oddly unemployed since he trained to be a doctor) husband to Susie and attentive father to small Margie. Lachlan is struggling to cope with his wife's arrest and trial for the Cape Wrath murder of a serial killer (whom she interviewed often in her position as a state hospital psychiatrist) and of the woman, Donna who married Andrew Gow in prison. Susie Harriot is believed by the police to have done the deed out of jealousy, after having an affair with the killer. Lachlan sees himself as 'A fat guy with a weird haircut who doesn't want to do anything but read obscure novels and pester the garden.' At first, Lachlan is a staunch believer in his wife's innocence, but as he steadily uncovers signs of her deceptions in her attic study, his loyalty slowly erodes, his behavior changes, and he practices deception of his own. He discovers that 'the island I've been rowing toward for seven years was a cloud on the horizon and I'm hopelessly adrift.'

The title noun is a theme throughout this subtle story of those who deceive and are deceived. The psychological element is handled brilliantly and the plot is very clever. My main problem with the novel is that I found it hard to identify with any of the characters (unlike anti-heroine Maureen in Resolution whom it was easy to root for). But if you enjoy psychological thrillers, Deception is excellent of its kind - and you'll want to re-read it to make sense of the story with the knowledge acquired by the ending.

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