Author: Denise Mina
Format: Audiobook, 9 hrs 46 mins
Read by Cathleen McCarron
A mother of two young girls, Anna, is devastated when their father, and the man she’s lived with for years as a husband, leaves her for a woman she thought was her friend. Within 24 hours of his sudden departure with her two girls, Anna overcomes the impulse to end her life and sets off on a mission to find the truth about a friend’s demise. His death and the past she had worked so hard to bury were intertwined now. Her lifeline, Fin, the mistress’s abandoned, anorexic husband, dragged Anna from her suicidal thoughts when it mattered most. Still, Fin’s lingering fame from a firework of a musical career in a band thrust Anna back into the mortal danger she had escaped years ago. Anna and Fin travel, run, hide, investigate, and publish their adventure in an action-packed story full of humor and suspense. The narration is peppered with unapologetic, honest illustrations of some of the worst sides of humanity today. Without giving away any of the twists and turns, in the end, the final message was that strong women help each other while selfish, lazy women destroy the lives of others.
The story starts out a little difficult to handle, especially when I was really in the mood for something distracting and lighter than my previous two reads. The narrator, Anna, is introduced at her worst. It’s understandable, as the man she had two children with invited his mistress to the house before taking the children away for a holiday without Anna. As the story continues, and Mina’s humor slowly starts to poke its way out, the reader begins to like Anna more and more. By the middle of the story, I wanted to pack my bags and join her on her suspenseful quest. The journey is a welcome escape from quarantine, with delectable descriptions of destinations only the wealthy can afford to enjoy. Mina very efficiently captures the majority of the reader’s senses in each setting.
The character development is exceptional and concise. The characters Anna interacts with are detailed and sometimes supported with comparisons that give the reader an excellent opportunity to build a visual. Mina captures the essence with as few words as possible, which keeps the story moving at an enjoyably breathless pace.
The themes are timely, including anorexia, rape, public ridicule, and the power of wealth. The narration offered a visceral response to witnessing the dehumanization of people with a history in the public eye. Whether it be as a victim of a very public rape case or as a once-famous band star, they seem to be objectified when “fans” recognize them. Anna’s low opinion of Fin changed as she sympathized with him in this burden they shared.
The strings pulled by money in the story may seem farfetched to the inexperienced reader, but life lessons have shown me it is all too common. It’s never a good thing to sow distrust in our systems. Still, it is good to take note of “the game” when you see it at play and gather as many allies and as much knowledge as you can for when you may want to make a move. Anna has a practiced eye for the game, and she and Finn make their moves a little more quickly than I think they would have liked, but the pressure was on.
Rating Summary: 10
Adventurous, funny, and honest