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Field of BloodReview - Field of Blood
A Novel
by Denise Mina
Little, Brown, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Aug 5th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 31)

Denise Mina, author of the award-winning Garnethill and two others in the same trilogy, as well as the excellent Deception (reviewed in Metapsychology March 2005), sticks to her setting of Scotland and the genre of crime mystery in her new novel Field of Blood.† It is a more conventional novel than her previous one, starting out with a murder of a baby and ending with the solution of the mystery of "whodunit," which is unlikely to surprise most readers even if they did not actually predict the ending.† There are other elements that make this novel distinctive, however.† First, the main character is not a professional detective, but rather an 18-year-old girl, Paddy Mehan, working for her local newspaper.† She lives at home with her family and is unwilling to tell her Catholic family that she does not believe in God.† Second, the setting of the book is the newspaper world (in 1981) rather than that of the police or private investigators.† The most interesting characters, apart from Paddy herself, are the journalists, and many scenes are set either in the newspaper office or in the local pub.† Third, there is a back-story of Paddy's namesake, a well-known local man who was framed by the police for a murder, for which he had spent seven years in solitary confinement before he was pardoned.† This story plays only a minor role in the main plot, and it is almost completely omitted from the abridged audiobook version.

Young Patricia Mehan is a surprisingly charismatic lead character, and very different from the usual sleuth.† She is overweight and she hopes to lose some pounds through her diet of grapefruit and boiled eggs.† She is rather naÔve but she knows that she wants a career, and that she will have to fight to get one.† The newspaper world is very male-dominated and she has to keep her wits about her so that the men don't get the best of her with their cruel jokes, especially the ones about her being fat.† Her boyfriend Sean wants her to give up her ambitions and be content with a future as his wife and mother of their future children.† However, Paddy finds journalism fascinating and she wants to move up from her current position of just running other people's errands to actually become a journalist.† She gets her chance when she discovers that one of young boys who are accused of murdering the baby is a cousin of Sean, and she has a scoop on the story.† However, she also knows that her family would be very angry with her if she revealed any personal details in the newspaper.† This is one of the many dilemmas she faces throughout the book, where she has to weigh her family against her career.†

Mina has a notable ability to capture details of Scottish life and speech, and her prose is very easy to read.† The plot is not in itself very remarkable, but the book is enjoyable.† It is the first in a projected series of novels and readers can look forward to the development of Paddy Mehan's character.† The abridged audiobook inevitably skips many great parts of the full version, but it has integrity and it read engagingly by Heather O'Neill.†

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved. 

Audiobook publisher: Highbridge Audio

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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