September 07, 2011


By Denise Mina
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Glasgow Detective Inspector Alex Morrow, last seen in Still Midnight (2010), returns in Denise Mina’s latest police procedural thriller, The End of the Wasp Season. Heavily pregnant with twins, Morrow is basically counting down the days until her maternity leave. She is looking forward to not having to deal with her dim-bulb boss on a day-to-day basis, not having to endure the petty bickering of her underlings and not having to think about anything unrelated to the two growing presences in her belly. Then Sarah Erroll is murdered, and Morrow’s world careens off in directions she could not have begun to imagine. No ordinary murder, this one is unusually savage: The woman’s face has basically been obliterated, stomped past recognition by not one, but two pairs of matched sneakers, identical but for the sizes. To make matters worse, the shoes broadly match those worn by the children of Morrow’s girlhood friend, a good-time girl fallen on hard times. Complicating the story even further is the suicide of a wealthy businessman—which may be connected to Sarah’s death. Mina excels at describing the minutiae of police work, inexorably leading to the solution of the crime, as well as the convoluted but exceptionally believable interpersonal dealings of the cops and criminals alike. Read one Mina novel, and you’ll be back for more.


Thomas Enger, already a legend in his native Norway, seems destined for similar acclaim on American shores. His debut novel, Burned, features disfigured investigative reporter Henning Juul, just now returning to work after the fire that destroyed his apartment and his good looks, and took the life of his young son. Juul doesn’t have to wait long to find himself back in the thick of things: It falls to him to look into the murder of a young woman who was buried to her neck in an Oslo public park, then stoned to death. It has the look of a Middle Eastern Sharia punishment, and indeed, the girl’s boyfriend is a Pakistani native; at first blush, he appears to be a very good fit for the murder. Or is he just a good fit for a frame? Enger forces his readers to confront their own (often well-hidden) prejudices, all the while delivering a gripping narrative that begs comparison to Stieg Larsson. A capital-B Bonus: This book is $15—possibly the best $15 you’ll spend on a mystery this year! By the way, you heard it here first: Enger is also a talented composer, with several movie themes to his credit; his tunes are evocative of Philip Glass or Amethystium. Check out his website at and have a listen.

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The End of the Wasp Season

The End of the Wasp Season

By Denise Mina
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316069335

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