BookBrowse Reviews Conviction by Denise Mina

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Conviction

by Denise Mina

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

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2020, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  A Brief History of Podcasts

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...
  • Book Jacket: The Unfit Heiress
    The Unfit Heiress
    by Audrey Farley
    During the American eugenics movement (see Beyond the Book), involuntary sterilization was used to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    by Ava Homa
    Ava Homa's debut novel begins with an epigraph by Sherko Bekas, a Kurdish poet, the last lines of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Flight
    by Julie Clark
    Julie Clark's second novel, The Last Flight, is the tale of two women, each desperate to escape an ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Book of Lost Names
by Kristin Harmel
A heartrending novel of survival, inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Ariadne
    by Jennifer Saint

    A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

  • Book Jacket

    Footnotes
    by Caseen Gaines

    The story of New York in the roaring twenties and the first Broadway show with an all-black cast.

Who Said...

Children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.