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Field of Blood
by Denise Mina
Book Review by Amy Coffin
Patricia “Paddy” Meehan is a copygirl at the Scottish Daily News, but she hopes to become a journalist some day. A chance opportunity to ride along with law enforcement puts Paddy in close proximity to one of the paper’s biggest stories.

The murder of three-year-old Brian Wilcox sent shockwaves through the community and even raised eyebrows within the jaded newsroom. Paddy learns of a previously unknown personal connection to the case. She takes this chance of confiding what she knows to gain status in the office. In doing so, she loses the trust of her own family.

Field of Blood follows Paddy as the murder investigation unfolds. Author Denise Mina parallels young Paddy’s story with that of an older, male Paddy Meehan who was wrongfully accused of murder.

The tale begins slowly after an introduction of the “Baby Brian” murder that’s difficult to digest (especially as an opening scene). The plot gradually strengthens as young Paddy investigates the homicide on her own. She believes somone may have been wrongfully accused just like the other Paddy Meehan once was.

Mina paints a working-class Scottish landscape that’s gray and yet vivid at the same time. The murder investigation reels readers in, while the well-described concept of newspaper politics keeps them hooked. 

Most of Field of Blood takes place in 1981, with occasional flashbacks to earlier years. It’s not difficult to distinguish between the two characters with the same name. Young Paddy isn’t very interesting in the beginning, but Mina reveals her growth before the readers’ eyes. The strength of this story is in what young Paddy sees and learns. Field of Blood has a disturbing start that gives way to an engrossing investigative thriller.

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