Despite herself, her interest was piqued. She could feel it happening: facts, disjointed, irrelevant, being card-indexed and filed away in her mind, the familiar private landscape of deduction. All the niceties of politics, personal or professional, eluded her always, but she could do this. It was the one absolute certainty for Alex Morrow. She was good at this. – from Still Midnight, page 26 –
When three armed men commit a home invasion, seriously injuring a young woman and taking an elderly man hostage, Detective Inspector Alex Morrow is assigned to the case along with DS Grant Bannerman, a man with whom Alex shares a strained professional relationship. The case is complicated by racism (the family whose home is invaded are Asian Muslims), and a mysterious person named “Bob” whom the criminals referred to when the crime was committed. Alex’s home life is in a shambles, the “good ole boy” attitude in the police station threatens to stall her career, and her half-brother becomes a player in a case with plenty of twists, turns, and surprises.
Still Midnight is the first book in a trilogy featuring Alex Morrow – a woman who is complicated, somewhat unlikeable and a bit of a pit bull when it comes to solving crime. The novel establishes its characters, delving into their backgrounds, problems and motivations, and pits the police against a rag-tag group of kidnappers who reminded me of the “bad guys” in the movie Fargo. The narrative moves back and forth from Alex’s POV to that of the kidnappers to that of the kidnapped man (Aamir), which allows the reader to fill in the pieces of the puzzle as the plot unfolds.
My favorite parts of the book were written from the points of view of Pat and Eddy, the criminals who seem like bumbling idiots for most of the novel. It was these sections of the book where Mina inserts a black humor, a sardonic look into the minds and character of those who commit violent crime. I also enjoyed the sections where Aamir revealed his tragic past and how those experiences influenced his response to being a victim.
The strengths of the novel are the complex lives of the characters and the theme of family loyalty, loss and recovery from trauma. It was here where Mina’s writing shone the brightest. But the book is not without its faults. Some of the plot seemed contrived, and the ending struck me as unbelievable. Despite these short comings, I did enjoy the book and plan on reading the second book of the trilogy, The End of Wasp Season, which is the BOOK CLUB pick over at Jenn’s blog on July 9th.
Readers who enjoy thoughtful mysteries and suspense-thrillers, will want to give this one a try.
Visit the BOOK CLUB discussion at Nicole’s blog (note: there are spoilers in the discussion post).