It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.
Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.
This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.
Title: Conviction Author: Denise Mina |Publisher: Harvill Secker | Pages: 384| ISBN: 9781911215257| Publication date: 16th May 2019| Source: NetGalley
‘Conviction’ has pretty much everything you might want from a thriller. It’s gripping, funny and has an enjoyable mystery running through it. It’s also wildly different in tone and subject matter to the last Denise Mina book I read, ‘The Long Drop’, which speaks to her talents as a writer. I didn’t like it quite as much as ‘The Long Drop’, but then that was one of my favourite reads of 2018, so the bar was set high. That book was serious and fairly bleak, ‘Conviction’ is a much lighter read.
It opens with heroine Anna confronted by a double whammy of revelations.
- She discovers, via a true crime podcast, that an old friend of hers is dead and may be responsible for the deaths of his family.
- Her husband announces he is leaving her for the woman next door.
Those two things set Anna off on an international investigation into the deaths and her own past with the man next door, anorexic pop star Fin.
Whilst it relies on a couple of reasonably unlikely coincidences, the book manages to be quite convincing on its own terms. It’s a fun read and I suspect not meant to be taken too seriously, although there is some effective and thought-provoking commentary on how rape victims are treated by the police and the press.
The plot rattles along at breakneck speed and the amateur investigation is enjoyable. Anna’s sardonic narration and plain speaking is often amusing and added a lot to my enjoyment of the story. It’s perhaps not quite as funny as it might have been, but Mina does have a deftly comic turn of phrase at times.
What really makes the book, though, is the relationship between Anna and Fin. It’s touching, funny and believable. I found myself really rooting for the unlikely pair and I hope that Mina will consider giving them another outing. It might sound like damning with faint praise, but I’d heartily recommend ‘Conviction’ as a holiday read. It’s packed with enjoyable European locations and a bit of glamour, it’ll make you laugh and keep you guessing, and the characters will stay with you.