Gods and Beasts (Alex Morrow Series #3)

Gods and Beasts (Alex Morrow Series #3)

3.7 17
by Denise Mina

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"There's no going wrong with a Denise Mina mystery." (Entertainment Weekly)

It's the week before Christmas when a lone robber bursts into a Glasgow post office carrying an AK-47. An elderly man suddenly hands his young grandson to a stranger and helps the gunman fill bags with cash. He opens the door for the gunman and bows his head; the robber

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"There's no going wrong with a Denise Mina mystery." (Entertainment Weekly)

It's the week before Christmas when a lone robber bursts into a Glasgow post office carrying an AK-47. An elderly man suddenly hands his young grandson to a stranger and helps the gunman fill bags with cash. He opens the door for the gunman and bows his head; the robber shoots the grandfather, tearing him in two.

DS Alex Morrow arrives on the scene and finds that the alarm system had been disabled before the robbery. Yet none of the employees can be linked to the gunman. And the grandfather is above reproach. As Morrow searches for the killer, she uncovers a hidden, sinister political network. Soon it is chillingly clear: no corner of the city is safe, and her involvement will go deeper than she could ever have imagined.

Editorial Reviews

The Scottish writer Denise Mina may be regarded as a crime novelist, but that has never been the whole story. From her first novel, Garnethill, Mina has resisted neat classification. Her fiction, set mainly in Glasgow, is too subtle to be "tartan noir." Her protagonists are often female, but they are too complicated to be heroine sleuths, too difficult to pin down. Paddy Meehan, for example, who first appeared as a watchful girl in Garnethill, became the prime investigator in Field of Blood. Now Meehan, an established journalist, is barely glimpsed in Gods and Beasts, while Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow, familiar from The End of the Wasp Season, is Mina's chief character.

More confident these days in her hard-won authority, Morrow is as shrewd as ever, whether she is studying a suspect or a fellow cop. "It felt strange to have that double perspective," she reflects as she listens to an anxious, perhaps guilty, colleague, "...to have to calculate the gulf between what was said and what was meant" (a Jamesian observation that also sums up what Mina does so well). Gods and Beasts opens, however, in a straightforward way with a crime, or rather its aftermath. A young man sits on a curb, in shock, cradling a toddler, "...koala-clamped to his chest," strangers welded together by casual violence. During the armed robbery of a post office, the child's grandfather has been shot to death. Martin Pavel, a bystander, is left holding the boy and replaying the bloody image: "...automatic fire, red explosions on the old man's back, the tilt of his torso, the greasy slide."

What follows is equally impressionistic, a series of images ricocheting off a stunned consciousness. Martin registers a paramedic kneeling before him, the hospital where he and the child are "[p]ushed in a canvas wheelchair, through the A&E waiting room, not very clean, not very nice." Then a cubicle: "Time passed. Clocks ticked and trolleys rolled. Nurses shoes squeaked by beyond the curtain." And soon the departure of the boy with his distraught mother, followed by the arrival of DS Alex Morrow and DC Harris, whose questions tether and calm Martin's unruly recollections. It is gradually apparent that the shooting was coincidental but not random — the gunman and the grandfather seemed to recognize each other — and that Martin himself is a conundrum. An American who sounds Scottish, who is well educated, tattooed, and a compulsive runner; familiar with guns, gifted with accents, and haunted by details, he is an invaluable yet oddly suspect witness. He is also a stray exotic on the harsh, treacherously shifting terrain that Mina so masterfully depicts.

Populated by criminals of varying rank, by cops and politicians of shaky integrity, and by the battered casualties of violence and neglect, Mina's Glasgow is an intimate place where favor swapping and palm greasing blur the line between legal and illegal. Where, indeed, DS Alex Morrow's half brother is the "celebrity thug" Danny McGrath. "[T]hey were part of each other, deeply," Morrow knows. "She became a police officer because Danny was a thug?"

Nothing escapes Morrow's eye, least of all herself, and as Mina deftly joins the overlapping edges of a satisfying plot, her depiction of characters reading each other — and often manipulating each other — is as thrilling as any action scene. "It was blind panic," Morrow observes when she confronts a petty criminal with evidence that will have him killed unless he informs: "He glared at her, saw she was his only hope of living past January." Upstairs, in her boss's office, she is similarly clear- eyed, noting "...two very senior officers sitting with McKechnie-all on first-name, golf-course terms'. They were going to clean out the entire department top to bottom, shave off redundancies that way, smear her if they had to..."

Two of Morrow's own officers have been corrupted (the revelation of a third is one of the novel's biggest shocks), and corruption, sexual and venal, is at the heart of a parallel plot revolving around the city's powerful Labour Party leader. "[I]t was all consenting, it was all grown up," Kennie Gallagher protests. "They couldn't accuse him of doing anything except what everyone else wanted to do." But Kennie knew Brendan Lyons, the murdered grandfather and fellow party member, and now Lyons's family is being threatened. Gangland politics, party politics, Gallagher's marriage, Glasgow's shredded working class; each thread is connected to the single violent act that opens the novel. With consummate ease and flawless timing, Mina untangles the knot, leaving intact the enmeshed world she has so convincingly created.

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Alex Morrow Series, #3
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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Gods and Beasts: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Geo69 More than 1 year ago
I so recommend this book to all. Denise Mina made me feel as I was actually there and experiencing the reality of life there. I am looking forward to the continuation of the Alex Morrow series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this book was a little slow-starting for me at first, once I got a handle on all the characters, I was pulled into the intrigue. Set in Scotland, the crime and all of its twists and tangles became so interesting it was hard to put down.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
Alex Morrow, DS with the Strathclyde police, is back in the newest book by this Scottish author. The twins with whom Morrow was pregnant in the last book, the wonderful “The End of the Wasp Season,” are now a few months old. As the new book opens, she is deep into what is referred to as “the Barrowfields investigation,” when a new case comes her way: One week before Christmas, during the course of an armed robbery in a busy Glasgow post office, an elderly man who was patiently waiting in line suddenly is seen to assist the gunman, but not before handing his young grandson to a stranger, soon after which the grandfather is brutally murdered by the robber, who makes a clean escape. The only clue the police have is the fact that the alarm system was not working the morning of the crime. And the additional fact that the innocent bystander to whom the young boy was entrusted turns out to be much more complex than he at first appears. I have had nothing but praise for the several earlier novels by Ms. Mina that I have read, and would like to say that this newest book was equally wonderful. But I have to admit that I found it slow-moving and felt almost disjointed, as the several story lines unfold, including rampant control of the city by gangs (mostly involved in the drug trade, said to be worth more than a billion pounds a year in Scotland); police corruption; and a goodly amount of political discussion. The final pieces don’t fall into place until nearly the very last page. I should perhaps add that Paddy Meehan, the protagonist of several of Ms. Mina’s earlier books, makes a couple of peripheral appearances here. I will still look forward to future offering from this author, but this one didn’t come up to the high level reached by its predecessors for this reviewer. Oh, and should one wonder, the title is from Aristotle: “Those who live outside the city walls, and are self-sufficient, are either Gods or Beasts.”
CMAJORME More than 1 year ago
Needed another rewrite.Too much unresolved and dangling.writing is competent,clear,and The plot outline clear but needed fleshing out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Detective Alex Morrow is the lead dective in this story that starts off with a robery/murder. The story gets disjointed following many plot lines that include: robbery/murder, drug kingpin investigation, police corruption, political ties and a top politician caught with his pants down. How all this ties into the robbery/murder does not come into play until the end of the story. But then it is not the end of the story. This is book three of the Alex Morrow series. What will happen in book four. Personally, I am not interested.
AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
How far does corruption reach? You’ll find yourself asking this over and over again as you read this book. Filled with suspense and gritty images, Gods and Beasts provides the reader with a startling image of the seedier side of Glasgow. Alex Morrow investigates the horrible murder of an elderly gentleman in the middle of a Glasgow post office. The gentleman’s young grandson was also with him at the time but, to get him away from the scene quickly, the boy was promptly handed over to a total stranger. Or did the victim know him after all? Why was the stranger there at all? In her attempt to uncover the truth, Alex reveals a tangled web of corruption and political strong arm tactics that reach deep into the underworld. By contrast, she has a loving and supportive husband and children. The two are as far removed from each other as fire and water. I enjoyed this book for its setting in Scotland, with all of the riveting local color. The characters are genuine and the pieces of the plot finally come together in a stunning conclusion. Interesting read.
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I am not liking this book. I'm reading it but bored with the characters. No charisma.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its ok but i havet had this tjing for a year
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wht do u mean