Maureen O'Donnell wakes up one morning to find her therapist boyfriend murdered in the middle of her living room and herself a prime suspect in a murder case.
Desperate to clear her name and to get at the truth, Maureen traces rumors about a similar murder at a local psychiatric hospital, uncovering a trail of deception and repressed scandal that could exonerate her - or make her the next victim.
"A shattering first novel... You can't look away from it."-New York Times Book Review
"I can't think of a more interesting - and less likely - crime hero than Maureen O'Donnell, the damaged but determined center of Denise Mina's marvelous debut mystery. . . . The book bristles with angry energy and the spare urban poetry of its unique language." -Chicago Tribune
"A groundbreaking book . . . its emotional rawness and visceral honesty pack a punch more potent than any boxer-turned-PI could provide."-Washington Post Book World
"This raw, powerful story is an exceptional debut." -Kansas City Star
"A compelling story. . . . This is the reason we read mysteries." -Rocky Mountain News
From its opening pages, this winner of the 1998 John Creasy Memorial Award for best first crime novel pulls readers inexorably into the tortured world of sexual abuse victims and their struggle to survive as whole people. Eight months after spending almost half a year in a Glasgow psychiatric hospital devoted to treating sex abuse victims, Maureen O'Donnell is desperately trying to hold together her shattered life. Bored with her job at a theater ticket office and depressed because her affair with one of the hospital's doctors, Douglas Brady, is over, Maureen and a friend get drunk. The next morning Maureen finds Brady's body in her living room, his throat cut. With bloody footprints matching Maureen's slippers at the scene, Detective Chief Inspector Joe McEwan sets out to prove the woman's guilt. He's not alone in thinking her the culprit: to Maureen's shock, both her alcoholic mum and Douglas's politician mother also think she's the killer. Convincing them that she isn't becomes her goal. She picks up a rumor about one of the hospital therapists having sex with a patient and learns that, before his death, Douglas gave formerly hospitalized victims large sums of money. Maureen begins to suspect Douglas's killing is connected to the hospital's clinic. Did a relative of a molested client kill Douglas? Or was the deceased about to turn in a colleague who raped patients? With sharp dialogue and painfully vulnerable characters, Mina brings Maureen's world of drug dealers, broken families, sanctimonious health-care workers and debilitated victims to startling life. Maureen's valiant struggle to act sane in an insane world will leave readers seeing sex abuse victims in a new light.