Field of Blood

by Denise Mina

The year is 1981, and eighteen-year-old Patricia (Paddy) Meehan is
a humble lass from a Catholic working-class family. Engaged to a
local boy, Paddy's future seems set. The only problem is that
Paddy, who works as a copy "boy" for the city newspaper, has
ambitions that reach far above her lowly station --- she
desperately wants to be a reporter. "She imagined herself, wearing
smart clothes and a miraculous half-foot taller, swaggering into
glamorous rooms with a pan-scope stretched body, asking pertinent
questions and writing important articles."

But Paddy's reality deviates dramatically from her fantasies; in
real life, she is overweight and dumpy, overlooked by her more
powerful colleagues. The newsroom is an unfriendly environment for
Paddy. In a profession dominated by hard-drinking men, it's hard
for a woman to get ahead. Only Paddy's co-worker Heather, who is
tall, thin, blonde and college-educated, seems able to write her
own ticket, much to Paddy's dismay and jealousy.

When Heather betrays Paddy's confidence following a gruesome murder
of a local toddler, Paddy is shunned by her family and her
fiancé, who no longer feel they can trust Paddy with their
secrets. Paddy, partly because she's genuinely curious and partly
because she's out for revenge, begins to investigate the crime
herself, using Heather's name instead of her own. The terrible
consequences of this decision will rock Paddy's moral sensibilities
as well as her career ambitions.

Paddy's story is set against the backdrop of Scotland's
Catholic-Protestant conflicts and the general British political
situation in the 1980s. Her tale is also interspersed with the
story of a more infamous (real-life) Paddy Meehan, a former spy who
was wrongfully convicted for a crime in the 1960s and freed based
on the evidence of an investigative journalist. Although the
eventual connection between the two is tenuous at best, the
inclusion of the two stories, as well as the skillful
characterization of the younger Paddy's colleagues, does deepen
author Denise Mina's exploration of the power of journalism.

As for Paddy's character, readers may grow tired of her constant
complaints about her weight and her never-ending efforts to stick
to her ridiculous hard-boiled egg diet. She also occasionally seems
a little too sharp-tongued and quick-witted for a woman of her age
and station, easily trading verbal barbs with her more seasoned
colleagues. But the conflict between Paddy's family life and her
career goals, as well as her obvious journalistic talents, could
mark the start of a successful series.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 21, 2011

Field of Blood
by Denise Mina

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 031615458X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316154581