Gods and Beasts

A week before Christmas, an armed man charges into a Glasgow post office as Martin Pavel waits to mail home gifts to his family. The older man in the line in front of Martin hands him his grandson and voluntarily helps the masked gunman--who shoots the old man dead as he leaves the building, leaving many unanswered questions for Martin and the investigating officer in the case, Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow.

Gods and Beasts, the third in Denise Mina's Alex Morrow series, is steeped in a mystery that goes far beyond the identity of the murderer. The reason behind the old man's assistance in the robbery--and the mystery surrounding Martin Pavel--add a richness and complexity to Mina's plot, while the tone of her prose creates a mysterious atmosphere to heighten the intrigue.

Mina has created a circus-like cast of characters, all with oddities that make them fascinating and engaging; each possesses hidden layers, beckoning readers to look at them closer and more deeply. As Martin explains, the novel's title originates with Aristotle: "Those who live outside the city walls, and are self-sufficient, are either Gods or Beasts." The ultimate mystery lies in who among the characters falls into which category.

Readers new to Denise Mina, or to the Alex Morrow series, can easily pick up Gods and Beasts without reading its predecessors, Still Midnight and The End of the Wasp Season. However, they should be forewarned that reading Gods and Beasts will likely lead to a Mina addiction. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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