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Podcast hosts Anna McDonald and Fin Cohen were supposed to be on a week-long vacation with their --- how to put it? --- significant others. It’s complicated. How could they have thought it would work out well? For starters, Anna invited her ex-husband and his new wife, whom she actually likes. And she invited Fin and Fin’s new girlfriend, whom she wants to like but absolutely doesn’t. Then there are the children, who may be the best of the lot. If only they could go outside. But a mega-storm is raging.

"Denise Mina’s CONFIDENCE will take readers on a lively journey around several countries, while its heroes meet unscrupulous sorts and wiggle their way out of some very tight spots."

So when they hear news of YouTube star Lisa Lee having gone missing, the podcasting pair leap at the chance to run off in search of her, patting themselves on the back for doing the right thing. An hours-long drive to Anna’s home turns into an hours-upon-more-hours-long drive, at the end of which they simply want to grab something to eat and a few winks before beginning their hunt. Instead, they’re confronted by a shifty figure who calls himself Bram van Wyk. Van Wyk claims he can help them. He has a private plane and lots of money, and is willing to take them anywhere they want to go, including the French chateau where the YouTuber had last filmed.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or perhaps the lack of nourishment, but Anna and Fin agree to let Bram whisk them away. The promise of getting some rest while actually traveling to their goal sounds pretty good. So off to France they go. However, Bram filed a travel plan to Rome, which is where they land. He assures his guests that it’s only a one-day delay. There’s someone in Rome he needs to visit first. That someone is a priest --- rather, an ex-priest --- and he has an interesting story, starting with why he’s alive at all.

With their heads virtually spinning, Anna and Fin accept Bram’s offer of a ride to Paris. Again. This time he actually flies them there. The chateau that Lisa had been exploring was supposedly the source of an ancient Christian artifact, now the subject of an upcoming auction in the City of Lights. Many would kill to get their hands on it. Many, in fact, have killed for it. Did someone kill Lisa because of it? Is that why she’s disappeared? While Anna and Fin work to figure that out, Bram is on a different mission. He plans to acquire the invaluable artifact. Not for himself, mind you, but for a client.

All this time, Bram’s long-lost son, Marcos, has been tagging along. His mother decided, after about 11 years, that Marcos should meet his father, so it should come as no surprise that the lad tends to be angry. In fact, nearly everything he says is laced with the F-bomb. Heavily laced. It might take a while for him to form a bond with his dad. To be fair, Bram isn’t what you’d describe as especially loving and nurturing, or particularly ethical. Nonetheless, this motley crew all flit around the European continent together, searching for Lisa --- with Bram trying to get his hands on the artifact --- until they find what they’ve been looking for. It’s what comes after this that is the most explosive part of the story.

Denise Mina’s CONFIDENCE will take readers on a lively journey around several countries, while its heroes meet unscrupulous sorts and wiggle their way out of some very tight spots. As they go along, history sneaks in --- a lot of which is due to what Lisa found in that chateau, but also due to how religion shaped what people did over the years. It’s a wild race from the start, from the moment the podcasters make their escape, to the end, when they return home much the wiser.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on July 8, 2022

by Denise Mina

  • Publication Date: July 11, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316242810
  • ISBN-13: 9780316242813