#BookReview #TheLongDrop Denise Mina @DameDeniseMina

The Long Drop by [Denise Mina]
Source: Published Paperback copy via Waterstones

I bought my copy of Denise Mina’s, The Long Drop, a few years ago at Bloody Scotland and was lucky enough to have it signed by the author. With an ever growing “to be read pile” I’m ashamed to say I only just read it recently! But it was well worth the wait.

Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:

Glasgow, 1957. It is a December night and William Watt is desperate. His family has been murdered and he needs to find out who killed them.

He arrives at a bar to meet Peter Manuel, who claims he can get hold of the gun that was used. But Watt soon realises that this infamous criminal will not give up information easily.

Inspired by true events, The Long Drop follows Watt and Manuel along back streets and into smoky pubs, and on to the courtroom where the murder trial takes place. Can Manuel really be trusted to tell the truth? And how far will Watt go to get what he wants?

My thoughts:

The Long Drop by Denise Mina is a dark marriage between fact and fiction based on the true story of one of Scotland’s most famous serial killers in history, Peter Manuel. Anyone from the Glasgow area who was growing up in the 1950s will remember the fear and terror he created throughout his reign of terror. While it was before my time, my parents and family are well aware of the case having grown up in and around his hunting ground.

Denise Mina’s writing is chilling and most definitely captivating, her words bring the 1950s Glasgow to life, so much so that it was easy to lose myself in the pages drinking in the atmosphere of the past, recognising the streets and the areas of my hometown and imagining myself there 70 years ago.

The novel focuses on the infamous meeting between Manuel and William Watt and the hours they spent alone in Glasgow pubs with Watt claiming he was squeezing Manuel for information about the murder of his wife, daughter and sister in law; murders Watt himself spent time in prison accused of; murders that some believe to this day he had something to do with.

Interspersed with scenes from Manuel’s trial at Glasgow High Court, readers are taken on a dark and chilling journey. The court case was one of the most high profile ever seen in Scotland and one which gripped the nation. It was made even more remarkable by the fact that women made up the majority of the public spectators, women who were determined to see the man face justice.

The Long Drop is a story of a Glasgow past, it is a reflection of a time where women had few rights and domestic abuse and marital rape were not punished by the law. It was a Glasgow where the streets were violent and the culture the same, a time of hard-men and criminal underclass. The writing is raw and it is brutal.

Denise Mina captured Manuel perfectly, the ruthless and chilling sociopath that he was, alongside his weaknesses he was desperate to conceal. She captured the mood of the people of Glasgow and the strength and resilience of the women of the city was portrayed with a passion. But most of all she captured the city as it was in that era, the corruption, the ruthlessness and the brutality of a time gone by.

Denise Mina is an extraordinary storyteller and I can’t think of anyone who could have told this story any better.

The Long Drop is available to purchase from:

Waterstones

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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