Mina's second book about her Glaswegian DS heroine Alex Morrow put me strongly in mind of Larkin's famous lines about what your Mum and Dad do.
Here we have Alex, very pregnant (twins) working her way through the investigation of a murder. A very nasty murder. Alex cares about getting an outcome, but struggles to bring her team on board (explaining why would spoil the story). We know fairly early on who committed the crime, but not why. Learning why takes us on a journey through family life, dwelling in turn on Alex's nephew, son of the gangster brother whose connection to her is still a secret, on Alex's old friend Kay, struggling to raise her family of four in a Council flat and on Thomas, whose wealthy financier father, having ruined thousands with his schemes, hangs himself, leaving a vicious note for his wife. We see the various ways in which parents can muck up their children's lives - or build them up.
Mina has a great talent for sketching the awkward corners of lives, here delineating the factions in Morrow's police station: the unconfident Bannerman, promoted above his ability, polarising the officers under him and pushing for results. Or describing the uneasy relationship between Alex and Kay. In Alex Morrow, she has created a fascinating, complex woman, with her own failings and with a burden of guilt about her nephew. And there is Thomas's truly grotesque family, illustrating the old saying that if you want to know what God thinks of money, you should look at the people he gives it to.
I had been waiting for this book since reading Still Midnight, Morrow's first outing, and wasn't disappointed - this is, if anything, even better than the earlier volume and I'm glad to see that another is on the way Untitled Mina 1 of 3.