Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

"la donna di Glasgow" by Denise Mina (TEADUE, 2002)

The original title was 'Garnethill'.

Maureen, the main character (a body was found in her flat), has a friend, Benny, who initially helps her make deductions from the clues, and her brother Liam is a drug-dealer who knows a bit about how the crime/police system works. She tries to solve the crime herself, following various leads.

She's a victim of incest and her mother's an alcoholic. She's had a mental breakdown.

My first hunch was that the killer was the neighbour, Jim Maliano. The more people accused Maureen of being the killer, the more I began to believe it. Then I thought that Douglas might have been running a call-girl service.

I like the incidental detail - gestures and body language; descriptions of rooms. Having smokers talking to each other helps the author to break up dialogue with descriptions of gestures. The light relief of the dentures in the "Columbo" chapter works well. The ending's not entirely convincing at a plot level, but it's tidy. Acid slips into the plot.

Sometimes we slip outside the point-of-view. In chapter 16 we're told that Maureen didn't notice she was being tailed, and other section end with the information that someone's being unknowingly tailed. In chapter 21 we enter Frank's mind for a few sentences. In chapter 27 the receptionist's PoV becomes visible. And Angus' hallucinations would only be known to Angus. It works ok.

On p.187 there's a typo - "mattta".


  1. Dear Tim

    Matta means Mat, Joker or (topically) Trump. After visiting Rome, Florence, Sienna, Pisa and Venice in recent years, I am now teaching myself Italian and making reasonable progress.

    Best wishes from Simon R Gladdish

    1. Good luck with the Italian. I find whodunnits useful in that context, and this book wasn't at all bad.