BookBrowse Reviews Conviction by Denise Mina

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Denise Mina

Conviction by Denise Mina X
Conviction by Denise Mina
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 384 pages

    Apr 2020, 384 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book



In this suspenseful thriller, a headstrong podcast addict finds her suburban life upended by an eerie and lifelike true-crime series.

Scottish author Denise Mina's latest novel, Conviction, is a fast-paced thriller narrated by Anna, a smart and sassy podcast addict with a mysterious past. While listening to a true-crime story she realizes that she knows its subject, Leon Parker (thought to have murdered his two children and committed suicide). The podcasts initially serve as a distraction from her failing marriage until a coincidence accidentally shines a light on her life and forces her to flee her home. She continues to listen to the episodes while on the run, and the more deeply immersed she becomes in subsequent broadcasts, the more convinced she is that those hunting for her are the same people that killed Parker and his family. She determines that she needs to track down the true killer to protect herself and her two daughters from becoming victims themselves.

Inserting the text of fictional podcasts throughout the novel to drive the plot puts a clever twist on a well-explored genre. The episodic nature of the medium works well in this context; a chapter of the novel may contain the text of a single broadcast, simultaneously revealing new information to both the book's heroine and its readers, ramping up the tension and setting a direction for Anna's next move.

The most appealing aspect of the novel, though, is its protagonist; she's an absolutely intriguing character. Readers learn in the first pages that Anna's whole life, including her identity, is based on lies.

Just tell the truth. I've said that to my own kids. What a ridiculous thing to teach children. No one wants to hear it. There has to be a reason to tell the truth. I stopped some time ago, and let me tell you, it was great. Best decision I ever made. Lie and lie again, make up a name, a background, your likes and dislikes, just fabricate the whole thing. So much more rational. But I'm telling you the truth in this book. There's a very good reason for that.

Although the book is ostensibly about solving the murders, most of the plot revolves around Anna gradually revealing why she's running from her past and how her history connects her to the crime - a more compelling thread than her investigation of the killings. The narration, too, is a highlight, with Anna's wry sense of humor evident throughout. As she enlists the help of a friend, she records this exchange:

"There's no evidence anyone is after us, Anna, a lot has happened to you, I'm not saying it hasn't, but maybe you're also just a bit paranoid?" I didn't know what to say to that. I am paranoid but men have tried to kill me and that does tend to make you paranoid.

There were a few stylistic elements that did detract from my overall enjoyment. The author often has Anna drop a reference to her past out of nowhere, with no connection to what readers have already been told. Several times I had a "Wait… what?" reaction, and I had to back up to see if I'd missed something. Also, almost every chapter ends with an ominous one- or two-sentence cliffhanger; for example, a chapter about Anna's daily routine on a "mundane suburban Monday" concludes with the sentence, "I should have stayed under the sea with the ghosts." Coupled with the very short chapters I felt the technique was a blatant attempt to artificially create a page-turner, and it got old after a while. Lastly, many parts of the plot required a suspension of disbelief, almost-but-not-quite to the point where I found the whole thing too incredible. The protagonist's narration was captivating, however, and in the end that's what kept me engaged.

I found Conviction to be a light, entertaining read that would likely appeal to fans of thrillers, particularly those who prefer strong, interesting female protagonists.

Reviewed by Kim Kovacs

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in July 2019, and has been updated for the May 2020 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  A Brief History of Podcasts


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Conviction, try these:

  • What Lies in the Woods jacket

    What Lies in the Woods

    by Kate Alice Marshall

    Published 2024

    About this book

    Kate Alice Marshall's What Lies in the Woods is a thrilling novel about friendship, secrets, betrayal, and lies - and having the courage to face the past.

  • The Plot jacket

    The Plot

    by Jean Korelitz

    Published 2022

    About this book

    Hailed as "breathtakingly suspenseful," Jean Hanff Korelitz's The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

We have 9 read-alikes for Conviction, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Denise Mina
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Hello Beautiful
    Hello Beautiful
    by Ann Napolitano
    Ann Napolitano's much-anticipated Hello Beautiful pulls the reader into a warm, loving familial ...
  • Book Jacket: The West
    The West
    by Naoíse Mac Sweeney
    It's become common for history books and courses to reconsider the emphasis on "Western Civilization...
  • Book Jacket
    A Death in Denmark
    by Amulya Malladi
    Can a mystery novel be informative, intriguing and deeply comforting all at once? Amulya Malladi ...
  • Book Jacket
    Shrines of Gaiety
    by Kate Atkinson
    A few years ago, magazines ran pieces about how the 2020s were likely to be the 1920s all over again...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Hotel Cuba
    by Aaron Hamburger

    A stunning novel about two Russian Jewish sisters, desperate to get to the U.S. but trapped in the hedonistic world of 1920s Havana.

  • Book Jacket

    by Costanza Casati

    Madeline Miller's Circe meets Cersei Lannister in this propulsive and richly drawn debut.

Win This Book
Win Such Kindness

30 Copies to Give Away!

Few writers paint three-dimensional characters with such verve and humanism.
Booklist (starred review)



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.