I read the first two Paddy Meehan stories with enjoyment and looked forward to this, the third and last installment of the young Glaswegian journalist's encounters with crime. It was a disappointment. The right elements seem to be there: couthy Scots characters, a murder in chapter one, a subplot involving Paddy's ex-fiance, humour on the right side of dark - all present and correct. Somehow it doesn't hang together this time.
Let's start with Paddy herself. The character has developed from a young girl at the beginning of her career and hungry for success, to an established hack with a regular column in a substantial daily newspaper. There's the first problem. Paddy Meehan has turned into someone I would cross the street to avoid: a journalist paid for her scathing opinions and turn of phrase - a Caledonian Julie Burchill if you like. And success for Meehan means much of the tension drains away. True she has a young son to support and her love life is still far from ideal, but now she's well paid and respected, it's hard to root for her in the same way as before. And it means that her sharp tongue and wrong headedness become irritating instead of refreshing.
Then there's the plot. An old boyfriend of Paddy's is murdered. He leaves her the contents of his flat. Of course, the reason for the murder forms part of those contents, but instead of torching the place, like any sensible criminal would, the killer decides to go after Paddy. I'm tired of plots which make people do daft things for the convenience of the story. Worse still is the subplot about a young cousin of Meehan's ex, convicted of murdering a child (think James Bulger here) and about to be released into the care of said ex. What? Pardon? This guy would last two minutes on the outside before the lynch mob came calling and yet the authorities make no attempt to hide his identity or whereabouts. Again, it's a case of twisting reality to fit the plot and like a shoe that doesn't fit, there's a limit to how long I can wear this stuff.
I put it aside half finished and can only hope the next Mina is better.