aimee dars reads

THE LESS DEAD: Denise Mina’s New Novel

Dr. Margo Dunlop, grieving the death of her adoptive mother, found a secret stash of letters from her biological aunt and decided to meet her. Nikki revealed that Margo’s biological mother, Susan Brodie, not only was a prostitute, but was killed just months after Susan’s birth by a serial killer. Since then, Nikki’s been receiving threatening letters.

Margo, who is newly and unexpectedly pregnant—and split from her boyfriend, Joe—is also trying to protect her best friend, Lilah from her controlling and abusive boyfriend. Pursing Nikki’s paranoid suspicions is more than she can handle—that is, until she starts receiving letters herself. Now, she is compelled to find out what really happened to Susan before she herself becomes a victim.

Mina’s description of Nikki and her friend Lizzie, as well as the sex trade in Glasgow, were empathetic and compelling. They were funny, likeable characters who had overcome addiction and more. I also loved Mina’s trajectory, and how she came to be proud of having Brodie blood from being fairly alarmed by her mother’s past.

I wanted more details about Joe and why he’d tolerate Margo who was a bit of a pill and Lilah and why she’d fallen into a pattern of abusive relationships. Interstitial chapters reflect the killer’s point of view. They are creepy and atmospheric, but I didn’t really like them. I also felt that the novel had several strands of narrative that didn’t always work together. On the one hand, that’s life, and it does reflect Margo’s state of mind to some extent, but it’s not necessarily what I look for in a crime novel.

Mina’s writing is excellent, and her depiction of Glasgow made me feel like (and wish) I was there. I wanted to know the resolution of the case and was surprised and satisfied with the ending. However, I did not like this as well as Conviction.

The Less Dead will be available in bookstores on Tuesday, August 18. Look for it then!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.