By this point, you have likely read at least one crime novel that uses our culture’s current obsession with true crime podcasts as a storytelling device. It has become clear that we are still at the early stages of this trend and market saturation remains a distant “goal.” However, what makes the podcast work so well as a narrative tool is how versatile it is and how each author finds their own way to weave the journalistic endeavor into the overall plot. In the case of Denise Mina’s Conviction, the author finds a very clever entré into her story via a podcast before taking her main character on a twisted journey until she eventually must launch a podcast of her own later in the book.
As the novel opens, Anna McDonald – a Glaswegian stay-at-home mom and wife – is going about her day as usual, unaware that in just moments everything will change. Before long, her husband appears to drop a bombshell that discombobulates Anna’s life in shocking though not totally unexpected ways. Looking for solace, Anna – who has recently been addicted to podcasts – settles in to listen to the latest episode about the sinking of The Dana. The last thing she expects to hear the audio journalist say is a name from her past: A name that hits her like a sledgehammer, her mind awash with the worst memories of her life.
Against her better judgment, Anna continues to listen to this podcast, convinced that the authorities got everything wrong. She feels an innocent woman sits in prison for causing the explosion on the yacht and killing the family aboard. Anna may have evidence that will help free her, but in order to present it, she will have to open the door to a past she has been running from for years. Is she willing to re-experience that trauma for a stranger?
Joining up with a friend and fellow “lost soul,” the two endeavor to follow the clues to the real truth and in the process must set a trap – a podcast of their own. With both of them in fragile mindsets, this decision will either help them with the healing or may be the final nail in their coffins.
Denise Mina has crafted a tightly-plotted novel that features a heroine readers will easily bond with. Sub-plots involve such disparate topics as rape, celebrity, eating disorders, murder, marriage, entitlement, friendship, and loyalty. The plot twists, weaves, bends, and swerves so many times that in less skilled hands, a Gordian knot of confusion would have been the only possible result. Fortunately, Denise Mina is well aware of what she is doing and it is all in service to the storyline she places before the reader. By the end – once you pick your jaw up off the floor – you will want to go back to re-read this tale to see how this author was able to keep you in the dark for so long.
Denise Mina’s Conviction is a book about storytelling, about the stories we choose to tell (and those we don’t), about the power derived from the “telling,” about the method by which the stories are told, and about when is the right time to tell such stories. Give this novel a chance and I am sure you will find it unforgettable in only the best way possible. This is an author who deserves a wider readership, so why not make this your first – or next – foray into Denise Mina’s stellar work.