BOOK CLUB: Still Midnight by Denise Mina

bookclubreads_Alex MorrowWelcome to BOOK CLUB, a joint venture between me and Jen from Devourer of Books.  Today we are discussing still Midnight by Denise Mina,  published by Reagan Arthur Books.

 From The Publisher: Life ought to be simple for Detective Inspector Alex Morrow. She’s not new to the police force–or to crime–but none of that matters as she’s assigned to the case that could make her career.

The case involves a seemingly random attack on a family in a quiet suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. Three armed men slipped Still Midnight by Denise Minafrom a van into a house, demanding a man who is not, and has never been, inside the front door. In the confusion that ensues, one family member is shot and another kidnapped, the assailants demanding an impossible ransom. Is this an amateur crime gone horribly wrong, or something much more unexpected?

As Alex falls further into the most challenging case of her career, she must manage the complications of police force politics, and a marriage every bit as tangled as the case she’s trying to solve. Rich with dark humor and powerful storytelling, Still Midnight shows again why Denise Mina’s mysteries have earned praise as among the best in the world,

If you plan on participating in today’s BOOK CLUB, please consider subscribing to comments at the bottom of the page, and check back throughout the day as more questions are added to the post.

  • What were your general impressions of the book, and how did your thoughts and opinions evolve as the story unfolded?
  • Based on Alex’s first appearance in the novel, what were you expecting from her as a character? How did your thoughts about her change over the course of the novel?
  • Bannerman makes statements about certain people not having that killer instinct, what do you think he means by that? Does it have any bearing on how the police force operates? In how Alex does her job? Does she have a killer instinct? What evidence did you find to support your claim?
  • How do issues of race and ethnicity affect the case? Was the family justified in concealing Bob’s identity? Did who he was surprise you?
  • Mina spends as much time with Eddy and Pat as she does with the detectives. What did you think of that technique? How did it make you feel about them as they were in the midst of carrying out their crime? How did you feel about the circumstances in which they find themselves in the end?
  • What’s next for Alex? I want predictions on her, her family life and career before we jump into the next book!

12 copies of Still Midnight were provided by Reagan Arthur Books in order to facilitate this discussion. Thank you so much!

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 BOOK CLUB   Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung

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  1. Let’s start with Alex Morrow. I’m still not sure how I feel about her, to be honest. For all of her “I’m not racist” and her calling out racism in other characters, I was highly annoyed with her in the very beginning when she made Omar and Mo feel like they were being silly when they claimed to have been unfairly targeted by the police after Omar’s father was kidnapped. I have no doubt that they were treated unfairly because of their skin color and the way they were dressed, and for her to tell them they were just being silly made me quite angry. I was so irritated that they apologized. Ew. As the book went on, I was irritated with what seemed to be hypocrisy on her part, so I’m not sure how I feel about her as a person. I don’t necessarily like her, but I don’t necessarily dislike her, either. I’m just being wary, I guess.

    I think Bannerman’s “killer instinct” means being able to throw your colleagues under the bus with no remorse or guilt or second thoughts, in order to further your own career. I think Bannerman is a schmuck. I also think that being this way is counterintuitive to being a good police officer–isn’t a police officer’s job to serve and protect the general public? If a police officer is more worried about whether or not they get all the credit for helping someone, rather than whether or not that person has actually been helped, there’s a problem. And while I know that there are politics in any job that people have to do, it still annoys me that Bannerman was more focused on the office politics than he was on the actual people he was supposed to be helping. I don’t know if Morrow has her own kind of “killer instinct” or not, but if she does, it’s definitely not the same as Bannerman’s. (And I hope it stays that way, really.) I want her to be tough, but I don’t want her to start acting like the men she works with.

    I already touched a bit on race and ethnicity and I think it’s apparent that there is quite a bit of stereotyping going on in the book (from the characters). I do think the family ended up being justified in concealing Bob’s identity since he had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. Interestingly, I believed Omar from the very beginning. I never doubted that he was being sincere about things and that he had nothing to do with it. Billal, on the other hand, raised red flags for me right away, but I can’t necessarily pinpoint why. He just seemed…cagey to me. He was too quick to “give up” what he thought his brother was involved in (I never believed his story about Omar being involved in the computer chip thing), and all kinds of warning sirens were going off in my head when I read that part. I knew that Billal had more to do with the whole situation than he was letting on, but I didn’t know how until the end. What a jerk. I’m a non-violent type of gal, but I sure didn’t feel bad when Omar beat him with the phone at the end.

    I liked that we got to spend time with the criminals. Even though Pat got himself into the whole mess by going along with Eddy, I felt really bad for him. Whereas I think Eddy is just an inherently nasty person who uses all kinds of crap to excuse his behavior, I think Pat is an inherently good person who’s made some bad decisions. And I have to say that I really liked Malki and was very upset at his outcome. Sigh. I’m so glad that Pat finally did the right thing by leaving Eddy in the dust.

    As for the ending, that was the other thing about the book that annoyed me along with the part at the beginning that I already talked about. I really didn’t like the ending. I think it’s too abrupt and I’m not sure how I feel about its believability. Yes, I think the daughter would have run away with someone just to get away from her family, but I’m not sure I believe that she would have run away with the guy who shot her hand off. I don’t know. And I think Pat’s being kind of icky about the whole thing–his obsession with the girl makes my skin crawl just a bit.

    Overall, I really liked the book and I definitely want to read more of the series. I want Alex to redeem herself somehow and I want to see Bannerman get the shaft. I’m very glad that it looks like Alex and her husband will be trying to work things out. I obviously would like to know more about their son and what happened to him, and I’d like to see Alex and her husband really talk about it and get things out in the open. As for her career, I know she’ll still have a rough time as a woman in a male-dominated occupation, so I’m hoping to see her rise above that mess and not stoop to their level. (Although I’d also like to see her maybe stoop a little, you know, once in a while, to screw Bannerman over. Heh.) But I really want her to be a good detective and do her job well, as opposed to letting office politics run her career.

      1. I felt like they were going to do something weird there. The way they acted in the first place. She seemed a little too interested, right after he invaded their home. It also seemed like she knew him right away at the hospital.I guess I didn’t have a strong feeling that they were implausible since they were kind of painted with that brush. It seemed to be going the fairy tale route, even with the way that they rode off into the sunset together. And since they were going to do it that way, at least he seemed willing to wait. It was a weird sort of comment on how she must have felt like she had no real choices. At least wait and get some reconstructive surgery on your hand first!

        1. I guess I can kind of see what you’re saying. And it was definitely weird from the beginning. When I look at it that way, I guess I’m glad that in some ways, they’re each others’ savior — he removes her from that situation (although after Aamir came back, it might not have been so chafing for her at home? Although we don’t really get resolution for why she was given an inferior education as compared to what her brothers got …), and she gives him the courage/impetus to finally walk away from Eddy.

        2. It WAS weird from the beginning. I just don’t know that I could personally ride off into the sunset with someone I just met…who blew have my hand off. Haha!

        3. It WAS weird from the beginning. I just don’t know that I could personally ride off into the sunset with someone I just met…who blew half my hand off. Haha!

        4. I was squicked out by their age difference, especially that she was only 16. We found out at the end that Pat was 28, but I still think 16 is wayyyy too young for Aleesha to be running of with any guy, let alone one who blew her hand off.

        5. I had mixed feelings about Pat. I liked him probably more than any other character in the book. He made a huge mistake going along with Eddy and bringing his cousin along with him, but I wanted him to be able to change his life and move forward. Things kind of got weird for me after Malkie’s death. He may have cried in the hospital and some of that was about his cousin, but it felt like a whole lot of self-pity. Then to have Aleesha join him made it worse. While I was hoping that he’d have a brighter future, how this book ended was kind of gross. That remark about him knowing her parents was just not right. Did he learn anything from the experience? Did she?

    1. The daughter running off with the guy who shot her hand off was strange. I wonder if they appear in the next book at all.

    2. Heather, I think you summed up the way I felt about the book pretty well regarding Alex. I don’t know that I like her very much. A lot of times when there are mysteries like this and the detective has issues, I’m usually glad that he or she is there in the mix despite it all. I think with Alex I felt less so. I just finished the audiobook this morning and I just don’t know how I feel about it as a whole yet.

  2. Prior to this the only Scottish author I have read was Alexander McCall Smith and his mysteries are nothing like this. This did not fall under the cozy tea drinking mystery category at all. I don’t think I was expecting it be so dark and gritty. My general impressions of the book was that it had kind of a slow start. Generally I like second books in a series more than the first. First books tend to have a lot of set up and by the time you get to the second you already know everyone. The pace picked up as the story went in and by the end I was hooked in.

    I can’t say that I cared all that much for Alex. As the story went on and you learn more about the death of her son you do feel some sympathy for her. I still thought she was nasty to her husband and I hope they are able to move forward in the next book.

    Bannerman and his “killer instinct” will eventually do him in. Police officer’s need compassion in order to do their job and as the series develops I am sure we will see that trait flourish in Alex.

    I think the family was right to conceal “Bob’s” identity. The clearly have been exposed to racism in the past and have a right to be wary of the police. I never thought Omar had anything to do with the crime. I was kind of surprised at Bill though.

    I like that the author spent as much time with the criminals as the detectives. It humanized them instead of presenting them as card board villains.

    Next up for Alex is hopefully a reconciliation with her husband. I am interested in knowing what happened to her son. I wonder if she blames her husband? Also I would like further information on her dynamic with Danny. They had a unusual sibling relationship to say the least. As an aside I did think there was an overabundance of the word c***t. Maybe it is a more popular term in Scotland? I can’t think of another book I read that sprinkled it so liberally. In one paragraph alone it was uttered five times. I am not a prude but I hope the editor introduces a thesaurus to the author for the next book so she can learn some new words.

    1. I hate the c*** word, but its use didn’t bother me here. I mean, it BOTHERED me because I hate the word, but not the way it was used. It seemed really believable to me from the characters it was coming from, to the point where I barely noticed it, which is highly unusual for me, because typically that word rankles.

    2. I don’t hate the c-word, but it surprised me at first in the book. Then as the book went on, I realized how natural it sounded in the context of the story, and even caught myself giggling at it once in a while. Heh.

    3. I really hate that word, and without going back and counting, I think I remember the paragraph you’re talking about, Ariel. In some ways it reminded me of Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, which is Australian. Based on things I’ve seen Justine Larbalestier say, a lot of the language in that book that was really off-putting to me, really isn’t considered bad language there. I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say the C word isn’t a bad word in Scotland, but maybe it isn’t quite as offensive? The few other Scottish authors I’ve read don’t necessarily bear that out. Maybe it’s a way for Mina to convey the grittiness of the situation? I don’t think it bothered me as much in this book as it has in others, though, as others have said.

      1. I fell like it is a more common curse word there than it is here. I feel like I have seen it in other books sets in the UK. It would have really bothered me in an American novel, and I feel like we view it SO much more offensively here. There, not so much.

    4. It was interesting to read all of your perspectives. I just don’t like the word, but for me personally it was more the overuse of it than the word itself. Said once it might have had more impact.

      1. Yes, the overuse of the word was a little off-putting. But, in general the language didn’t ruffle my feathers. – These were really low class criminal types and so the language fit the character.

  3. The book kind of snuck up on me. The first couple hundred pages, even, I wasn’t sure about it, wasn’t sure I was going to come out of this book liking it OR Morrow. But in the last 100or 150 pages, I really came to enjoy the book. And the characters. At the beginning I wasn’t sure if Morrow was a person I could end up liking or even sympathizing with. But as more of her back story is revealed (especially the loss of her son), everything begins to make more sense. She became much more sympathetic to me. Her secret background, of being from the wrong side of the tracks, is a huge asset.

    I agree with Heather about Bannerman’s killer instinct. It seems even when he uses the term that he’s referring to how he can take advantage of his coworkers, of office politics/circumstances, to better his own situation. He seems to be referring to his own interpersonal … prowess, maybe. I think Morrow does have this to a certain extent, but hopefully not in the same way. Yes, I guess I’m pulling for her. We do see her take advantage of certain situations for her own political gain, but she seems at least as focused on solving the case as she is improving her career. Maybe she’s just a bit more naive than Bannerman is, thinking that the quality of her case-solving and detecting will prove her worth and value to the department (ignoring that how you get along with (certain) others is actually a huge part of advancement in most jobs).

    I found the handling of race and ethnicity in this book interesting. In a lot of ways, it feels like it’s a lot less of an issue (more of an obvious descriptor, less of a slur) when it’s mentioned than it would be in the States. I think I would feel better about the family’s deception about Bob’s identity if it hadn’t been Billal’s idea. Since it comes from him, I feel like he concealed the truth not to protect the family or his father, but himself. I never really try to figure out whodunit ahead of the characters, so I didn’t see the secondary name switch coming like I probably should have.

    I did like spending the time we did with Eddy and Pat. I’m not sure I’d like that approach in every book in a series, but for this one, it definitely worked. I saw Eddy’s path laid out ahead of time, but in some ways I’m disappointed by the ending Pat got. I’m glad that Pat finally found the strength to walk away from Eddy, though.

    As for Morrow’s future, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with her relationship with her brother, her family. Will she continue to use those connections to further her career? Will she be able to come clean without ruining her future with the department? I’m also looking forward, of course, to seeing her relationship with her husband and I think some stability there will help her in her job. I hope they move to a new, more character-filled house and neighborhood, with perhaps at least a nod to her former self/life. I hope she gets to a point where she doesn’t think hiding (in blandness, in unremarkableness) is the way forward. I’d like to see her deal with her past, family, continue to heal the relationship with her husband, and maybe have another baby. Or adopt?

    1. I found her sympathetic at the end, too. Having Brian in the picture helped with that. She gets all junked up inside of her own head and I think she needed someone to pull her back out again. I liked his gesture with the car. I do hope that they’ll give their marriage another chance. I would like to see a slightly happier Alex Morrow. One who isn’t biting herself.

        1. Eww. I saw the biting when we first met her in her office, and I caught her wanting to bite herself sometime. I missed the Vampire Diaries moment, though.

  4. I agree with those of you who said you didn’t love Alex at the beginning – she was a character who at first put me off. I agree with Heather about her response to the guys about racial profiling – of COURSE they were not taken seriously and suspicion fell on them because of race!!! Alex came off as being so righteous about the racism, but in her own way, she was also a racist.

    I really, really liked when the book was narrated from the criminals’ POV – there was some “black” humor there which reminded me of the movie Fargo – they were such buffoons, but also so dangerous.

    Police politics plays a big part in the novel – and I again agree with Heather that Bannerman is a total schmuck. His idea of killer instinct is to take credit for others’ work and throw his co-workers under the bus in order to climb the ladder. As much as I disliked him, I think the author got the whole “old boy network” down right – it made me more sympathetic towards Alex.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book – it is the first Scottish mystery that I’ve read and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

    1. I enjoyed the dark humor of the criminals’ POV, too, until Eddy started getting really nasty. I chuckled more than once at their gaffes.

    2. I agree, I found it to be a pretty realistic portrayal of the “boys club” aspect of way too many jobs. I agree with Morrow: How nice would it be if that wasn’t true, and performance was our only measure for climbing the ladder and success in the workplace?

    3. I wanted to strangle Bannerman when he took “compassionate leave” in the middle of that case. Regardless of how it was going, he was given leadership over someone else who really wanted it. What ever happened to the captain going down with the ship? He was more like the White Star Line guy who snuck his way on a lifeboat. I had started to like him a little, too. Bastard!

  5. The first three days I read this, I was on a “gotta get through 50 pages a day to finish in time for the discussion” schedule. And then day 4 and 5 I just completely tore through the rest and had to stop myself from starting the second book before we discussed this. I think Mina does an amazing job at sneakily turning Morrow from this distant, hard, prickly character to someone you can really feel for and start to understand and become invested in.

    Bannerman is a total jackass and I really hope he gets what is coming to him sooner rather than later. At *least* by the third book, since that’s all that is out now.

    My prediction for book 2 is that Alex and her husband attempt a reconciliation, but it is harder than they think or something else sets them back. They’ll be working on this for awhile.

    1. I agree–the reconciliation between Alex and her husband is going to take a long time (at least it *should*). I don’t think that is something a couple can come back from very easily. I do hope they work it out, though, if that’s what’s best for both of them.

    2. I agree that the reconciliation between Alex and Brian will be slower/tougher than I’d like, than maybe she thinks, it will be. But still, hopefully significant progress will be made on that front in book 2.

  6. I want to talk more about Alex’s handling of the boys and getting them to back down from what could be considered racial insensitivity. Do you feel like either she, or Omar and his friend really believed what she said? Could Alex’s view of events be plausible? I clearly felt like the boys were being wronged but to play devil’s advocate, readers knew there entire situation. Where they had cone from, how important time was to their situation.How would you have handled that situation if you were the police or Alex?

    1. I do think she is right to a certain extent, that if you are a police officer and a couple of young men jump out of a car screaming you’d be a bit on edge and take precautions, regardless of their race. However, if this happened in the US I would DEFINITELY believe that, at the very least, the situation was exacerbated by them not being white. I’m not confident that the racial situation is different enough in the UK that the same wouldn’t hold true in Scotland.

    2. I can completely believe that Mo and Omar’s skin color (and dress) probably played a part in the reaction they received when they jumped out at the police officers while they were attempting to follow the van. But like Jen said, they’re at least somewhat justified in their … cautious … reaction, too.

      I wasn’t sure what you mean by “Alex’s handling of the boys and getting them to back down.” … so I went back to the book and reread their encounter. You mean when she first goes up to Mo and Omar, and basically gets them to back off from potentially filing a grievance (I could assume). In a lot of ways, her response bugs me. Is she relying on instinct/training, to cover the department’s back? Or maybe she went that route because she’s so emotionally locked up in her pain (not that either reason is an excuse for behaving badly). Or maybe all of that was just a way for her to continue talking with them, observing them, since something in their mannerism made her think they might know something. I wonder, too, whether if she’d acted differently, since it wasn’t her case, might have advanced her political cause/career, but who knows.

      By the way, what do you make of her throwing “Racist” at MacKechnie? I’m still not sure I know what she meant or where it came from.

      1. The thing with MacKechnie made me think that she didn’t even necessarily approve of how she handled things with Mo and Omar, that she was acting as she was expected to instead of how she wanted to, and then funneling her frustration onto her boss, but I could be wrong.

    3. I really don’t think that if my husband jumped out of a car and started yelling that I or the kids or whoever had been kidnapped that he would have been treated the same way the officers in the book treated Omar and Mo. I do think the officers would have been wary, but I don’t think they would have completely ignored what my husband was saying for the length of time it took to go through what they put Omar and Mo through.

      Of course Alex’s view of events COULD be plausible, but I don’t think they were in this case. If I were Alex, I would have defended my officers a bit (because isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?), but I would have made sure the boys knew I was taking their claims seriously, and I definitely would have followed up on it at the station, even if it didn’t make me any friends.

      1. I agree, Heather. I have a feeling if these were two white, middle class looking kids who were not listening to Muslim radio, they would have taken them more seriously and treated them more like victims. Unfortunately, I think that Alex’s reaction was very typical of a lot of police departments…they first jump to defend other cops/their department and assume the complaint is nothing. I wish I could say I did not see that kind of thing when I worked as a volunteer in our county sheriff’s office – but it is there.

  7. WOw, I’m feeling like a complete moron. ALthough I saw the book centered around the police procedural, I really saw the story about family. I’m just going to insert my review from Goodreads here.

    Initially I had difficulty with this book. Upon reflection, I found that the chapters that held the character of DS Alex Morrow and the investigation really held my interest. However the chapters that was from the point of view of one of the criminals, Pat was less engaging. After finishing the book I saw that this was a shame as his story and that of his family was part of a interesting relection on family.

    The general overview is that 2 men enter the home of the Anwar family screaming for Bob. No one there has that name and it seems like this is a botched home invasion. The invaders take the father and tell the family they will get him back when they get their money. Written as a mystery, who is Bob? Why do they think he has this money, will they find Mr. Anwar? and police procedural the really story is of families.

    Alex Morrow a DS in the Glasgow police, is married but reluctant to go home. We discover her back story and see it clash with her investigation.

    The Anwar patriarch is a immigrant from Uganda. Traditional, he takes pleaure in his nontradional children.

    Pat, one of the armed gunman a part of a family we don’t really get to meet and understand until the end of the book.

    Mina’s exploration of these families throughout the book are the real story for this reader. Families, the interactions, believes, culture clashes, desires to be different from and yet part of are the stories of great literature. FOr me, Mina fumbled by not including the story of Pat earlier in the book which would have engaged this reader much earlier. Still, I’ll be reading the next in the series to find out more about the interesting and complex Alex Morrow.

    3.5 of 5 stars.

    1. I don’t think that reading it as a story about family makes you a moron at all! Actually it is quite perceptive, and honestly the fact that Mina was able to tell both stories (procedural and about families) is, I think, what made this a very successful book for me.

    2. I thought it was a story about family as well and that was what made it so exciting for me. I love that she was able to show the complexities of the families and how they interact with each other and how they stand, fall, or make decisions in the face if on ongoing investigation, kidnapping, work stress. All of the characters had something going on with family, even Bannerman had a sick mother that he used to escape work duties that weren’t palatable.

    3. I agree with you about the family aspect. That triggered the most interesting thoughts from the book. I was especially interested in the relationship between Omar and his dad. I’m so very glad that it wasn’t him that they were looking for in the end.

  8. I’m glad to hear that I was not the only one that it took awhile to get into and enjoy this book.

    I found that I liked Morrow almost immediately. It might be because I work with law enforcement almost daily so appreciate some of the attitude and dark humor.

    I wasn’t engaged as much when the book focused on Eddy and Pat. I just didn’t care for the characters.
    Oh, and so weird how the book ended. Not sure how you can even begin spending time with some one that shot you – just saying!

    I’m interested in Alex’s story. Her relationship with her brother as well as her loss with her child.

  9. I have a question…the scene where Aamir is in the warehouse and cuts himself…then Malki arrives and Aamir (accidentally) kills him…at this point the door is open and no one is guarding him. Why do you think that Aamir simply retreats back into the room to “await his fate?”

    1. Wendy this is a great question. I really enjoyed Aamir’s journey in this book. I think that ther was a part of him that want’ed to give up. His sadness at not feeling worthy of his motheer’s sacrifice really pulled at him while kidnapped. I think when he was living his life, working raising children he was able to avoid those thoughts and feelings but in that dark cavern he found a darkness in himself. I thought it amzaing that he found the will to leave.

      What is it in their relationship that took Aamir to Lander’s apartment in the end. I loved the visual of him lying in his silk pajama’s sleeping peacefully in his friends apartment.

      1. Especially that Aamir knew where to go to get the peaceful sleep. It made perfect sense that he wouldn’t return home first. I wonder what he’ll say to Bil when he does go home?

      2. I liked Aamir’s journey too, Karen. I was so stunned when he first did not leave (when he could). It was almost as though he had given up all hope and was just going to allow things to happen they way they would. When I got to that part in the book I had to reread the passage twice to make sure I was understanding. I do think he carried his mother’s attack (and his role in it, which was to say, he always felt guilty that he did not try to save her) with him for his whole life…and then his kidnapping caused it to surface (it was almost like PTSD).

  10. Still Midnight wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but I was impressed with how Mina managed to construct the novel and its characters. Truthfully, for most of the book I was a bigger fan of the bad guy (Pat) than I was of Alex. I was surprised, in fact, by how uncomfortable Alex made me for the first part of the book. It wasn’t until the interview between her and Danny in the interrogation room, and its final moments, that I really saw her as human or felt any sympathy toward her. That single moment, though, where she leaves the room, made her a completely real character for me, and one I then began cheering for.

    I definitely plan to read the rest of the series. I read a mini-spoiler for book 2 (I’m such a cheater!), so I somewhat know what to expect from Alex, but just vague generalities. I’d like to see her both a) successful in her career; and b) with a healthy/happy personal life. I have to imagine neither will be easy and that both may be impossible, but I am rooting for her.

    PS: Sorry for my late arrival today – taking care of a sick nephew totally threw my plans off!

    1. I am curious about Alex’s dynamic withe her brother and the background of their family. It was interesting to me that Mina teased the nature of their relationship before she lets you know they are brother and sister, and they have such a charged relationship. I was so glad that he figured out the wire and had the realization that his sister had not betrayed him. It definitely seemed like he was ready to hang her out to dry.

  11. This was a great discussion of the book to read through. I may be the only one who didn’t really like it at the end. There was a lot of interesting things going on with the book, but it took me so long to like anyone other than Pat and to a lesser degree Omar. I finally did get into Alex toward the end when she let her walls down a little for Brian and then when she stood up to her brother. I also respected her for the way she externally handled Bannerman’s jerk move. I would like to see him and his “killer instinct” take a good swift kick to the groin. True leaders aren’t those who bow out if they sense their reputation is stake. They do what they need to do to arrive at justice. In that way, Alex Morrow is a detective you want in your town. If you’re just an average citizen you won’t be as irritated by the way she’s always biting herself (that drove me absolutely insane for some reason).

    I read this book in audio and the narrator did a good job of drawing me in to a story I don’t think I would have felt like finishing otherwise. That being said, I left the book unsure as to whether I want to continue in the series. I don’t think that’s Jane MacFarlane’s fault. I think I need to sit with the story for a little while longer. I think part of my problem is that I wanted Alex to be more normal than she was. The story wouldn’t be the same if she was, though. She has a unique and very keen way of seeing situations and her instincts are good. Had she had a more stable upbringing, those senses wouldn’t be as sharp. I guess that’s just a long winded way of saying that I need to give Alex a break. Maybe she won’t bite herself as much in the second book. I’ll definitely be a more educated reader the second time around.

    1. I almost forgot about the biting – yes, that was strange and it was another sort of off-putting aspect of Alex that I did not totally “get.”