Cover image of "Still Midnight" by Denise Mina, a novel about cops in Glasgow

Detective Sergeant (DS) Alex Morrow is a twelve-year veteran of the Strathclyde Police, the regional force that policed Glasgow and adjoining areas until a reform passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012 merged all eight regional forces into Police Scotland. Alex is a woman, thirty-four years old, tall, blonde, and very unpopular on the among the other cops in Glasgow. She is extremely unpleasant to work with, prone to lash out at coworkers for no apparent reason. We don’t learn until well into Still Midnight what appears to be an explanation for her off-putting behavior. In fact, several critical elements in Alex’s backstory are revealed only gradually in the course of this, the first of five novels featuring her detective work.

A special breed of villains and cops in Glasgow

The plot in Still Midnight revolves around the home invasion of a middle-class Muslim family in a quiet Glasgow neighborhood. Two lowlife characters — an extremely violent and unpredictable alcoholic, and the handsome young scion of a notorious crime family — charge into the house, terrorizing the aging parents, a young woman who has just given birth, and a beautiful 16-year-old girl. Their assignment from an unseen boss is to demand two million British pounds from somebody named Bob, but there is nobody named Bob in the house. In frustration, they kidnap a member of the family, setting off a chain of events that engages DS Morrow and many of her colleagues in a frustrating and protracted investigation.

The two criminals at the center of the case — “villains” in British parlance — both exhibit extreme behavior that, like Morrow’s own, is difficult to understand. One is pathologically violent, and the other becomes obsessively attracted to the 16-year-old. Perhaps there are people who behave like all these individuals. If so, I wouldn’t understand them any better than I do the characters in this novel.

Still Midnight (Alex Morrow #1) by Denise Mina ★★★☆☆

About the author

Denise Mina has written twelve crime novels as well as numerous plays, radio plays, comics, and graphic novels. Her longest-running series are the Alex Morrow novels, of which Still Midnight was the first.

For more reading

This is one of the many Mysteries and thrillers set in Scotland that I’ve reviewed here.

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