Martin Pavel is standing behind an old man and a child in the post office waiting to mail Christmas packages when a gunman comes in. The old man pushes the little boy toward Martin and behaves as if he knows the gunman. The gunman forces the old man to assist him in the robbery and then shoots him.
Things are going better for DS Alex Morrow than they have in awhile. She finally admitted her relationship with her criminal half-brother Danny Boyle to her supervisors and has been investigated and cleared of any suspicion of wrong-doing. She also gave birth to twins four months ago and is happy in her marriage. Her habitual anger has stopped simmering below the surface.
Morrow’s team is surprised to find no ties to crime on the part of the victim, Brendan Lyon, a former union organizer. The tattooed Pavel turns out to be a wealthy do-gooder. The police are having a hard time figuring out how Lyon could have known the gunman.
In a parallel story that seems unrelated until the very end of the novel, labor leader Kenny Gallagher, a rock star in politics, can feel the support of his constituency ebbing. His leadership is being challenged, he is being accused of improprieties with a young party member, and his wife wants a divorce.
Alex soon finds that two officers on her team were lured into taking a bribe, and then a third has a sack of cash thrown into his car. As she investigates these incidents, she begins to uncover a web of corruption.
On the home front, she is tentatively exploring normal family relations with Danny. He says he’s retiring from crime, but is he?
I discovered Denise Mina’s gritty crime novels shortly after the publication of her first book. They are unfailingly excellent, with gripping plots, complex characters, and complicated moral dilemmas. Mina’s writing is spare and elegant. You can’t go wrong with her if you have a taste for dark, dramatic crime novels.