Mysterious Book Report The Red RoadThe Red Road by Denise Mina

Little, Brown and Co., $26.00, 298 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-18851-7

Here’s some news: I got involved with a young woman last week in a personal way. We spent a delightful afternoon and evening together; she even went to bed with me while my wife June snoozed right beside us. And hey . . . before any mendacious gossip of a salacious nature gets started . . . it’s a perfectly platonic relationship. After all, she lives in Glasgow, Scotland, while June and I live in Colorado, happily married for some thirty-seven years now. So how, you may ask does one go to bed with another who is eight thousand miles away and not engage in moral turpitude? The answer should be obvious—this being a book review column—the young woman, whose name is Denise Mina, is an author. She writes books . . .

The Red Road, by Denise Mina is her tenth novel and it’s chock-full of crime, mystery, murder, mayhem, treachery, conspiracy, pathos, anger, intrigue, victimization and revenge. It begins with Police Detective Alex Morrow testifying at the arms dealing trial of Michael Brown. He’s a life-long criminal who’s served a long prison sentence for murdering his older brother Pinkie back in 1997, when Michael was only thirteen years old. The case against Brown hinges on his fingerprints, found on the guns he had buried in his backyard, just as it was his fingerprints on the knife that killed his brother, which sent him to prison back in ’97. Under questioning, it becomes apparent that there’s something fishy about the prints because another set of them has turned up at a murder scene, while Brown was incarcerated in the city jail as his trial continued. As Morrow digs deeply, she’s led to a privileged lawyer who expects to be assassinated over a money-laundering scheme, and a woman who’s spying on the people who put her in prison. The case gets more bizarre with each chapter until the stunning conclusion . . . which you’ll never see coming. Denise Mina is a self-described “Lucky little bastard,” and a terrific author as well. Irish writer Val McDermid said, “If you don’t love Denise Mina, you don’t love crime fiction.” I totally agree. Read one of her novels and you’ll soon find yourself in bed with her too!


John Dwaine McKenna