Laura Gonzalez


7 Dec 2014

The Dead Hour by Denise Mina****


Reading dates: 14 November – 06 December 2014

Denise Mina’s crime novel characters are like no other. There is a clarity to Paddy Meehan and to Maureen O’Donnell that Jo Nesbø (with his Harry Hole), and Lee Child (with Jack Reacher) only aspire to. It is perhaps due to the fact that she works in trilogies so the character does not have time to contradict herself in ways that annoy the reader. Then, there is the heroine’s background. Both Reacher and Hole are somewhat stereotypical, aspirational, but I know Paddy Meehan, I have met parts of her. I might be biased because I also know another of the characters in Mina’s novels: Glasgow; and she, too, is accurately, vividly portrayed. Glasgow is surprising, interesting, dark, dangerous, cold, gritty, cool. Yes, that is the city I live in.

So having declared my bias, I will mention two other things that are, perhaps, more objective: she knows how to craft stories and, importantly, to write them. Most crime writers are let down by the quality of their prose, but there were sections in The Dead Hour I went back to because they were insightful, nicely put. This only happens to me with one other crime writer, David Peace. Him and Mina are proof that a more literary version of the usual trashy crime fiction is possible and innovation can happen in this highly codified genre.

If you have recently been to the cinema to watch Nightcrawler and enjoyed it, read this book. Young Paddy Meehan will accompany you in the small (and dead) hours of the night, with her tiredness, desire for sleep, cloudy judgement, insightfulness and fad diets. I liked Nighcrawler, but I would have preferred a film adaptation of The Dead Hour.

Posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Reading

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.