The End of the Wasp Season
When wealthy Sarah Erroll dies a violent death at her home in a posh part of Glasgow, the local community is stunned by what appears to be a truly gratuitous act.
Heavily pregnant with twins, DS Alex Morrow is called in to investigate and soon discovers that there is more to Sarah's murder than it first seems.
On the other side of town, Thomas Anderson is called into the headmaster's office at his boarding school to be told that his tyrannical father - a banker responsible for the loss of many livelihoods in the recession - has committed suicide. Thomas returns to the family home to find his mother and sister in a state of numb shock. The head of the household is dead, yet their initial reaction is not of grief, but relief.
As Alex Morrow slowly unravels the connections between the two cases, she must also deal with the death of her own father and her brother's continuing criminal activities. Trying her hardest to disentangle herself from her family's disreputable history, she faces the challenge of an uninspired police force who have zero sympathy with Sarah Erroll, a middle-class victim who it appears was acting as an high class escort. Can Morrow solve the mystery of a cold-blooded murder without support? In THE END OF THE WASP SEASON she faces her greatest challenge yet as her work and home lives collide with potentially disastrous consequences.
This is #2 of Mina's Alex Morrow series.
In the first book Alex Morrow had recently returned to work after a breakdown and period of convalescence. DS Morrow has secrets that she would rather colleagues and bosses didn't know about. THE END OF THE WASP SEASON relates another of those secrets - Alex is attending her father's funeral, and meets up with her half-brother, local crime boss Danny McGrath. In STILL MIDNIGHT Alex asked Danny for a favour. In THE END OF THE WASP SEASON he has one to ask of her.
The opening pages of the novel though describe the death of Sarah Erroll at the hands of two gawky teenage boys. Sarah's attempt to phone 999 is treated as a prank call and Sarah signs her own death warrant when she tells one of the boys that she recognises him. The reader is really never given a clear description of how Sarah Erroll dies but a lot is made of using the blood spatters to determine which of the boys was responsible.
One of the boys, Thomas Anderson, is later told that his father has hung himself, although this is not the motivation behind the murder. He has to return home to become "head" of the family at fifteen, and then it becomes obvious how damaged and dysfunctional this family really is.
At work Alex's former DS colleague John Bannerman has been made DI, and he has resorted to bullying tactics with his team. The team on the other hand not only dislike Bannerman but they have no empathy with Sarah Erroll, the victim of the murder. The investigation by Morrow takes place against the background of police department politics. The fact that Alex Morrow is just over four months pregnant with twins is definitely a complicating factor.
Alex Morrow finds that she actually went to school with a woman who was the primary carer for Sarah Erroll's mother. A little predictably Kay and her sons become prime suspects for Sarah's murder. The unempathetic Bannerman is keen to wrap the investigation quickly by charging Kay.
I really enjoyed this novel, including the puzzle of the title. If you read it watch out for references to wasps. I love titles where the meaning is open to interpretation!
So, do yourself a favour - read these in order, go looking for STILL MIDNIGHT, read that first, and then savour THE END OF THE WASP SEASON.
Review by Kerrie Smith, MYSTERIES IN PARADISE
About Denise Mina:
Denise Mina was born in Glasgow in 1966. Because of her father's job as an Engineer, the family followed the north sea oil boom of the seventies around Europe.
She left school at sixteen and did a number of poorly paid jobs, including working in a meat factory, as a bar maid, kitchen porter and cook. Eventually she settled in auxiliary nursing for geriatric and terminal care patients. At twenty one she passed exams, got into study Law at Glasgow University and went on to research a PhD thesis at Strathclyde University on the ascription of mental illness to female offenders, teaching criminology and criminal law in the mean time.
Misusing her grant she stayed at home and wrote a novel, 'Garnet Hill' when she was supposed to be studying instead.