The Red Road

Written by Denise Mina, narrated by Cathleen McCarron — Denise Mina has earned her place among Scotland’s most distinguished authors. This award-winning novel about the long, entangling tails of murder has its beginning in Glasgow in 1997, when a young boy is accused, convicted, and imprisoned for years for murdering his brother. Those events resurface in the current day, in which Detective Inspector Alex Morrow is increasingly dubious about her own testimony in the same (now grown) man’s trial for arms-dealing, not to mention her future with the police force. Her doubts come to the fore when the fingerprints of the accused turn up at a recent murder scene, one where it would have been impossible for him to have been present. The reader/listener knows from early on that he was falsely imprisoned for his brother’s murder and who the real killer was, a 14-year-old prostitute, but who mixed up the fingerprints? And why?

The tentacles of the conspiracy reach far and wide, and over the intervening 15 years. They even may extend as far as Morrow’s brother Danny, a known gangster, but one she’d rather not be involved in bringing to justice. Meanwhile, all the people involved in the earlier false accusation and coverup, if that’s what it was, have their own reasons to want to shut her investigation down. Despite their efforts to thwart her, Morrow is determined to persist. And in doing so, she must confront the crucial difference between justice and law enforcement.

A more complete summary of this complex plot is available here, in the review of the print version of this book.

Focusing on this as an audiobook, despite my cred as a devoted audiophile, it is not totally satisfactory. The plot is complicated – a plus in a print volume – and the characters so numerous that it is hard to keep the story straight. The narration is in part responsible for this, as there a is less sharp delineation among character voices than typical. Glaswegians may well be able to detect subtle differences in characters’ accents (class, etc), but my American ear could not. Generally, authors stick with a particular narrator for all their books, at least in a series, although Mina has had several readers, with McCarron her most recent.

Read about Denise Mina’s latest book The Long Drop here.

Hachette Audio

CFL Rating: 4 Stars 

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