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BOOK REVIEW: THE DEAD HOUR
BY DENISE MINA

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The characters in books by Denise Mina don't live in elegant travel poster locations nor do they live comfortable lives. As factories in Scotland close as a response to economic decline, men who formerly supported their families are out of work. Their sons have no gainful lives to look forward to, so they spend the days lounging in boredom.

Paddy Meaghan, the young newspaper employee from FIELD OF BLOOD returns. Paddy is the only person in her large family who has a job. She is painfully aware of her responsibilities to the rest of her family, particularly her mother who struggles to keep the household intact.

Following the police to a late night domestic disturbance call in a wealthy neighborhood, Paddy has a brief glimpse of an injured woman with blood streaming across her face. The well dressed man who has answered the door presses money into Paddy's hands and persuades her and the beat policemen to leave and let him handle things.

Alternating chapters present the frantic, drug-addled flight of a lovely young woman fleeing pursuers who are not fully sketched at first. As Paddy copes with the tension of keeping the bribe or confessing it, she learns more and more about police complicity in criminal activity in the area. THE DEAD HOUR is an engrossing study in contrast: between Paddy struggling to maintain an economic toehold under hard circumstances and the wasted life of the beautiful young woman - the key to the events in the late night assault - who had every advantage but wasted them all.

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, WOODSTOCK

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