Denise Mina. Gods and Beasts. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2012.
Catching up with another excellent tartan noir author and DS Alex Morrow. Mina has a way of introducing multiple story strands that makes us guess at connections. A fatal shooting during a robbery causes repercussions in more than one life―including the Lyons family and the mysterious young witness, Martin. A parallel story concerning Kenny Gallagher, popular but secretly sleazy politician, races to an unexpected climax. At the same time Morrow and her partner are working hard to nail a leading criminal figure. Tentacles of the murky underworld have a long reach: Morrow's brother again has a bit part; as usual, his activities and Morrow's feelings remain ambivalent.
Gods and Beasts reveals a kinder, more contented Morrow whose recent birth to twins no doubt explains it. She has more empathy for her police colleagues, some of whom are in trouble; the Professional Standards Unit (latest incarnation of the internal police investigators) is about to arrive on their doorstep. Interestingly, a lot of Mina's characters are not exactly simpatico, but nevertheless exert binding fascination. No question: this is superior crime fiction. I had to order the next Morrow book immediately.
One-liner: Jennifer's smile dropped into her lap. (237)
Kenny's wife rebounds:
"Humiliate me?" She was crying again, looked puzzled and frightened. "Do you think they should be allowed to tell lies, to humiliate me?"
He didn't know where this was going, so he shrugged. "No."
"No." She was crying and laughing. It looked disgusting. "They shouldn't be allowed to lie and humiliate me. 'Cause lying's wrong and if people just lie, and lying becomes normal, then the person who is telling the truth looks mental, don't they?"
She was calling him a liar, in their family kitchen, but Kenny decided to rise above all that and squinted as if he didn't get it. "What? Are you saying they're trying to make me look mad?"
"Tell me the truth."
"I am telling you the truth."
Through her tears, she laughed, possibly at herself. "God," she shook her head, "You're such a shallow, middle-class prick."(81-82)
"You still feeling ill?"
"Maybe you should call in sick."
"Yeah, I think I'll have to." She glanced up and found Routher smiling again, the way he had smiled on the way there. She realized that he wasn't grinning because he had one over on her. He was smiling because he was a decent man and he liked working with her. All that other crap was her own. (95-96)
Defending her territory:
"Sir, we can't shut down whole departments every time someone leaves a bag of money at a door. You might as well give them keys to the building. We have to put on a show at least."
McKechnie understood what she was saying. "But first thing in the morning we start this." He tapped his file. "I'll be here at nine thirty."
Morrow stood up. "That's not first thing in the morning, sir, that's two hours after the shift changeover."
She looked at him and, for some reasons she couldn't quite explain, they smiled at each other. "These are good men, sir." (219)
Jussi Adler-Olsen. A Conspiracy of Faith. New York: Dutton/Penguin Group, 2013.
Carl Mørck, I am so into your world view! ... never politically correct, delegating all possible tasks, and finding endless opportunities for a wee nap. Welcome to the semi-crazed life at Copenhagen's Police Department Q at their best, the cold case squad of highly opinionated staff. Dogged assistant Assad and feisty secretary Rose are managing an asbestos problem in their basement quarters, guaranteed to drive Mørck nuts. Rose changes horses mid-stream by substituting her equally eccentric twin sister Yrsa. Mørck's home life is as chaotic as his office: lodger Morten manages the care of Mørck's paralytic colleague Hardy, while stepson Jesper threatens to move out, and almost-ex-wife Vigga threatens to move back in.
Amidst the bedlam, Mørck and his colleagues are investigating a serial killer, starting with the faintest of clues in an old bottle washed up by the sea. Victims were ― and still are being ― chosen among the children of isolated, uncommunicative, fundamental Christian communities. Several lives are in the balance as Mørck and (unknown to him) some vengeful women speed to the rescue, hoping to out-race the killer. Trust me, it's breathless! And there's more: the killer's "home life" is slowly revealed; Department Q solves a current arson case. Intricate plotting and full-fledged characters; why can't all crime novels be this good?
Distrust was her partner in life. (28)
Nothing's ever so bad as not to be good for something. (81)
It was at this very moment of painful self-awareness that a series of dull thuds suddenly came from the stairs, making him think of a basketball bouncing down a flight of steps in slow motion, followed by a wheelbarrow with a flat tire. He gawped as a person came toward him looking like a housewife who had just stocked up on duty-frees from the ferries that used to ply the Øresund to Sweden. The high-heeled shoes, the pleated tartan skirt, and the garish shopping cart she dragged in her wake all screamed the fifties more than the fifties probably ever did themselves. And at the upper extremity of this gangling individual was a clone of Rose's head with the neatest peroxide perm imaginable. It was suddenly like being in a film with Doris Day and not knowing how to get out. (83-84)
The parents from hell:
And then his mother said the words that divided them forever.
"You spawn of the Devil," she spat, cold as ice. "May Satan drag you down to where you belong. May the inferno sear your skin and deliver you into pain from this day forth." She nodded emphatically. "Yes, you may well be frightened, but Satan has already taken you. You are no longer ours to care about."
She flung open the door and thrust him into the sherry fumes of his father's study.
"Come here," his father commanded, winding the belt around his hand. (206-207)
The essential Carl:
He climbed the stairs without managing so much as a word to Rose and Assad. These god-awful holidays. Jesper was home all day and his girlfriend with him. Morten was away on a cycling trip with some bloke called Preben, and they seemed to be in no hurry to get back. In the meantime, they had a nurse looking after Hardy, and Vigga was traipsing around India in the company of a man who kept two meters of hair stashed in his turban.
And he was stuck here while Mona and her kids were off tanning in Greece. If only Assad and Rose had got their arses away somewhere, too, he could have spent the whole day with his feet up on the desk watching the Tour de France in peace.
Holidays were the pits. Especially when they weren't his. (496)