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Conviction

Review

Conviction

Although she’s a talented playwright, travel writer and graphic novelist, Denise Mina has developed a deservedly stellar reputation for writing crime fiction, both in series like those starring journalist Paddy Meehan and police detective Alex Morrow, as well as in suspenseful stand-alone thrillers. Her latest, CONVICTION, is a stand-alone that’s inspired in part by the popularity of true-crime podcasts.

Anna is the mother of two young daughters, married (more or less happily) to Hamish and living in a well-appointed house in Glasgow. Anna adores her children, but at times she just needs to escape her life and her memories, either in the pages of a book or, increasingly, by plugging in her earbuds and tuning in to a podcast. When the novel opens, Anna has just begun listening to a new podcast called “Death and the Dana,” about the mysterious sinking of a luxury yacht in the waters off a French resort town, with the yacht’s owner and his two adult children aboard.

"Mistaken identity, fascinating settings ranging from Glasgow to Venice, and a nonstop caper undertaken by some pretty strange bedfellows all combine to create a thoroughly entertaining thriller that’s sure to win Denise Mina even more fans."

Much to Anna’s surprise, she realizes as she listens to the podcast that she knew the man in question, Leon, who once stayed at a Scottish luxury resort and befriended Anna, who at the time was a member of the hospitality staff. What’s more, as Anna continues to listen to the podcast, she learns that Leon was married to a woman whose name she had hoped never to hear again, a woman who once made her life a living hell and forced her into hiding.

These names from Anna’s past (from a time when she had a different name, long before she knew Hamish) hit her like a bolt from the blue. But she hasn’t even had time to begin processing this surprise when she’s hit with another one --- her marriage is falling apart, and she’s been betrayed by two people she thought she trusted.

Soon Anna is off on a madcap (but legitimately dangerous) journey across Europe, accompanied by her erstwhile best friend’s husband, Fin (who also happens to be a rock star of some note, and an anorexic to boot). Fin’s fame means that when a photo of the two of them hits social media, Anna is also recognized --- and the secrets she hoped were long buried might be coming back to haunt her, and maybe kill her, too.

Mina’s novel is both legitimately suspenseful and surprisingly funny, thanks in no small part to Anna’s no-nonsense, judgmental and sometimes hilariously grouchy narration. The book feels very of-the-moment, thanks to its focus on podcasts and its intersections with the #MeToo movement. Mina also plays with form, including transcripts of entire episodes of “Death and the Dana” interspersed with Anna’s reaction to them and the actions she begins to take as a result. Given its subject matter and form, CONVICTION would be especially enjoyable to listen to in audiobook format.

Mistaken identity, fascinating settings ranging from Glasgow to Venice, and a nonstop caper undertaken by some pretty strange bedfellows all combine to create a thoroughly entertaining thriller that’s sure to win Denise Mina even more fans.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 21, 2019

Conviction
by Denise Mina

  • Publication Date: June 18, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316528501
  • ISBN-13: 9780316528504