cover image The Long Drop

The Long Drop

Denise Mina. Little, Brown, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-38057-7

In this outstanding standalone, set in late-1950s Glasgow, from Edgar-finalist Mina (Blood, Salt, Water), William Watt stands accused of butchering his wife, daughter, and sister-in-law, but he vehemently proclaims his innocence. Only ace attorney Laurence Dowdall saves him from prison, but public sentiment is against him, forcing Watt to take on the mantle of amateur crime-solver. This is how he meets Peter Manuel, career criminal, convicted burglar, suspected rapist. The two form a strange alliance after Manuel promises to show Watt where the murder weapon is hidden—but for a price. With knifelike precision, Mina flicks between the bizarre 12 hours Watt and Manuel spend together getting drunk in Glasgow bars, and Manuel’s later trial, where’s he’s on the dock not only for the murder of the Watt family but also the slaughter of another trio, asleep in their beds. The question of guilt or innocence is irrelevant, and the gray of the in-between reigns supreme. And while Mina’s usual tough female protagonists are absent, the presence of women presses as near as the crush of bodies eager to attend Manuel’s trial. (May)