A home invasion seemingly pulled off by “the gang who couldn’t shoot straight” is how Denise Mina opens STILL MIDNIGHT. Two thugs push their way into a small, quiet house and demand to see “Bob,” someone who evidently doesn’t belong to this Muslim family. The miscreants demand two million pounds in ransom for the patriarch whom they kidnap. And in the panic and confusion, one of the men shoots the teenage daughter by mistake.
"Both Bannerman and Morrow harbor secrets they would rather their bosses didn’t untangle."
Det. Sgt. Alex Morrow, a troubled and very angry cop, believes the case should be hers but is betrayed by her superior when the honors go to her rival, Grant Bannerman, an arrogant careerist who takes credit for work done by his underlings. Morrow is smarter and faster on her feet than Bannerman, but she still must march to his tune, at least this time. She had to work her way into her new promotion while he used other tactics to become a detective sergeant.
Both Bannerman and Morrow harbor secrets they would rather their bosses didn’t untangle. Bannerman is very uncertain of himself and has a sick mother. Morrow knows she is too mad at the world but finds it hard to hold her tongue or temper. She also would prefer that the powers-that-be not learn about her criminal half-brother.
Eddy, Pat and Malki (the getaway driver) are the criminals and take poor Aamir Anwar to Shugie’s house, a pigsty beyond all belief. They keep him there shrouded in a pillowcase, which is how they begin to think of him and thus call him “the pillowcase.” When they finally decide to move him, it’s to a huge rusted container of some sort. They lock him in, with Malki as the guard, another plan that goes terribly awry and has a deadly outcome.
In the meantime, Morrow and Bannerman discover that the “Bob” who the kidnappers were looking for is really Omar, one of Anwar’s sons. He is a hoodlum who dreams of owning his own business, but all who know him are certain this is never going to happen. Throw some drugs, alcohol, dirty money and an “importing-exporting” business into this mix of diverse characters, and add a plot that twists and turns, and you get a suspenseful read.
STILL MIDNIGHT is engaging from the first few lines, and the pace keeps speeding up. Denise Mina’s style is approachable and entertaining. Her reputation has been built upon strong characters and tight plots; she doesn’t disappoint here.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 23, 2011