The police procedural really isn’t my favorite slice of crime fiction pizza. Probably because it’s usually more about puzzles than people. Denise Mina’s The End Of The Wasp Season, however, while being a fairly straightforward police procedural, is all about character, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on what you look for in a crime novel. It certainly worked for me.
The End Of The Wasp Season has a brilliant, blistering opening. A young woman returns to her late mother’s home and is woken from a deep sleep to be confronted by a couple of intruders. The scene is fantastically tense and the resulting murder is no less shocking despite it’s inevitability.
The murder is investigated by D S Alex Morrow, heavily pregnant with twins. Morrow is a no nonsense streetwise cop, with criminal connections in the family. Morrow’s investigations reveal a connection between the woman’s murder and the recent suicide by hanging of a wealthy industrialist whose dodgy business schemes have ruined the lives of hundreds of people. A man whose actions have also deeply damaged his own family.
And this is really what The End Of The Wasp Season is about. The consequences of those actions. The sins of the father. The stains of those sins. The novel’s plot is good, if not particularly different. But Mina’s strength is her cast of full blooded, perfectly drawn characters and how she lets them lead the story.
This is the first of Denis Mina’s novels that I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last.