Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Resolution is the final book in Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy and, although it makes for a powerful and disturbing standalone novel, it has an even greater impact if the three books are read in the order in which they were released.  Sadly, as Resolution opens, not much has changed for Maureen O’Donnell and her friends.  Everyday life in Glasgow can be tough enough, but Maureen, still recovering from the murder of Douglas Brady, her former lover, seems to be having way more bad days than good ones.

Never comfortable with the idea that Douglas left her a substantial amount of money when he died, Maureen blew through all of it before she realized that she would be taxed on her windfall.  Now she owes more in back taxes than she makes in a year selling bootleg cigarettes in her little stall at Paddy’s Market.  The trial of her lover’s killer is fast approaching, and Maureen feels certain that the man is somehow behind the mysterious packages that have started to appear at her door.  And, just when she thinks things cannot possibly get worse, Maureen learns that the man who abused her when she was a child, her own father, is back in Glasgow – living with her sister and newborn niece.  Maureen’s drinking is worse than ever, so bad that her friends are worrying about her blackouts and the mysterious bruises on her face that come and go (the source of those bruises is finally revealed at the very end of the book).

To say the least, Maureen needs a distraction if she is to save herself.  She finds one in the person of an old woman she knows from Paddy’s Market.  Sensing that the old woman is being physically and mentally abused by her gangster son, Maureen and her two friends decide to help the woman.  After the older woman ends up in the hospital with broken bones, the trio of wannabe do-gooders stumble onto a complicated scheme involving forced prostitution and political collusion that they are determined to expose.  Maureen, already feeling threatened by the potential release of Douglas’s killer, has now doubled the number of men who wish her dead.

Denise Mena’s downtown Glasgow is not a pretty place because Mena pulls no punches in portraying life there for those at the bottom of Glasgow’s economic and social ladders.  It is a bleak setting filled with people the reader would not willingly choose to associate with in the real world.  Even Maureen is someone most would avoid if they encountered her on a downtown street.  Aggressive, down-and-out alcoholics with chips on their shoulders are simply best avoided.  Mina’s talent is to make her readers care about people like Maureen, care enough about them to want to understand and accept them for what they are.

Denise Mina is a gem.

Rated at: 4.0

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