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Salt water lifts blood. Only salt water. Loch Lomond is a mile deep but the woman’s body surfaced anyway. Found bludgeoned and dumped in the water, she now haunts Iain Fraser, the man who put her there. She trusted him and now that misplaced trust is gnawing through Iain’s chest. He thinks it will kill him. Nearby Helensburgh is an idyllic Victorian town. One-time home to a q Salt water lifts blood. Only salt water. Loch Lomond is a mile deep but the woman’s body surfaced anyway. Found bludgeoned and dumped in the water, she now haunts Iain Fraser, the man who put her there. She trusted him and now that misplaced trust is gnawing through Iain’s chest. He thinks it will kill him. Nearby Helensburgh is an idyllic Victorian town. One-time home to a quarter of all the millionaires in Britain, it is quaint, sleepy and chocolate-box pretty. But the real town is shot through with deception, lies and vested interests. As tensions rise and the police seek a killer, the conflicts that lurk beneath Helensburgh’s calm waters threaten to explode. All Iain Fraser has to do is keep on lying.


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Salt water lifts blood. Only salt water. Loch Lomond is a mile deep but the woman’s body surfaced anyway. Found bludgeoned and dumped in the water, she now haunts Iain Fraser, the man who put her there. She trusted him and now that misplaced trust is gnawing through Iain’s chest. He thinks it will kill him. Nearby Helensburgh is an idyllic Victorian town. One-time home to a q Salt water lifts blood. Only salt water. Loch Lomond is a mile deep but the woman’s body surfaced anyway. Found bludgeoned and dumped in the water, she now haunts Iain Fraser, the man who put her there. She trusted him and now that misplaced trust is gnawing through Iain’s chest. He thinks it will kill him. Nearby Helensburgh is an idyllic Victorian town. One-time home to a quarter of all the millionaires in Britain, it is quaint, sleepy and chocolate-box pretty. But the real town is shot through with deception, lies and vested interests. As tensions rise and the police seek a killer, the conflicts that lurk beneath Helensburgh’s calm waters threaten to explode. All Iain Fraser has to do is keep on lying.

30 review for Blood Salt Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    The fifth in the Alex Morrow series, Blood, Salt, Water is another great one from Denise Mina. Although, I probably couldn't stand Alex in real life, I enjoy her prickly, no-nonsense cop more with each book. She is hard to work with. She doesn't care about social niceties. She wants to solve the crime and she doesn't mollycoddle anyone, not her bosses, not her colleagues, and definitely not the perpetrators. Alex is not completely lacking in empathy, she knows quite well how poverty and situatio The fifth in the Alex Morrow series, Blood, Salt, Water is another great one from Denise Mina. Although, I probably couldn't stand Alex in real life, I enjoy her prickly, no-nonsense cop more with each book. She is hard to work with. She doesn't care about social niceties. She wants to solve the crime and she doesn't mollycoddle anyone, not her bosses, not her colleagues, and definitely not the perpetrators. Alex is not completely lacking in empathy, she knows quite well how poverty and situations can drag anyone into the dirt. Her own half brother is a crime kingpin in Glasgow. Despite that it or because of it, Alex is honorable to the core. The utter mess of crime is always highlighted in Mina's books, once you dip your toe into the cesspool, no one gets away without getting slimed or pulled under.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    If you're looking for something different in the criminal mystery genre, not wanting to read about a procession of grisly crimes committed by serial killers, but a humanistic story about mostly average people caught up in circumstances that lead them astray, then you've come to the right place with this series. What makes it different is the amount of time spent on the criminals and their development as characters, the reader seeing things through their eyes in alternating chapters. The author t If you're looking for something different in the criminal mystery genre, not wanting to read about a procession of grisly crimes committed by serial killers, but a humanistic story about mostly average people caught up in circumstances that lead them astray, then you've come to the right place with this series. What makes it different is the amount of time spent on the criminals and their development as characters, the reader seeing things through their eyes in alternating chapters. The author treats them as three dimensional people, giving them as much, if not more, page time as the detectives. And many of the criminals don't fit into a neat slot, skating in that gray divide between good and bad, dipping their toes into the waters of each pool to test them out. And catching them with their hands in their pockets, as they profess innocence, is Detective Inspector Alex Morrow, a strong and thoroughly professional member of the Scottish Police, yet a vulnerable woman who hasn't lost her humanity when seeing the worst of it on the job. This time out, Alex is part of a surveillance team, watching every move glamorous mother of two, Roxanna Fuentecilla, makes, the higher ups in the police department hoping Roxanna will not only lead them to multiple arrests in a scam, but lead them to a nice cut of whatever illegal take she's amassed. But Alex's interest in Roxanna isn't monetary or even criminally motivated. It's personal. Something about this woman reminds her of Alex's brother, a criminal if ever there was one. This element has always brought something unique to the series with the siblings on opposite sides of the law, family ties binding and sometimes strangling them as they have sought to escape one another. And now, it has infiltrated Alex's life to the degree that she fears it will interfere with her job. And her job in this case soon takes a sharp turn as Roxanna goes missing. What follows her disappearance is a complex ballet of crime, criminals dancing around and spinning one another, as Alex investigates them to determine what happened to Roxanna, uncovering more than she bargained for in the process. I can't say much more without giving away the intricate story involving a good portion of a seemingly placid seaside community. Alex soon finds that the calmness on its surface hides something insidious below it. And as she struggles to investigate the case which grows in reach, day by day, she struggles to submerge her own problems with her brother that are making her more sympathetic to Roxanna than she should be. In the beginning, I had my doubts about this fifth book in the series since it quickly became confusing with multiple characters of equal importance alternating on center stage, some of them connected, some of them possibly connected, or maybe not. Around the midpoint, I simply gave up trying to piece them together, trusting Ms. Mina to do the work for me. And I was rewarded for my patience and trust with an amazing last fifth of the book in which all became clear. The writing, as usual, was stellar with deft character studies built sentence by sentence. There were no stereotypes in this story which was a refreshing relief. It was a measure of the author's talent that she was able to build sympathetic characters out of those that didn't necessarily deserve sympathy. And she did this not by showing their tragic childhoods, but by showing their hopes and dreams and struggles during everyday life, same as the good citizens of their town. If you haven't read any of this series yet, begin at the beginning since it's important you know Alex's history. This personal side was something I missed in this book in which the criminals truly overshadowed Alex. I wanted more page time with her in her home life and with her conducting the actual investigation. She is smart and smart-mouthed, cynical, brassy, but with a heart of gold, though she'd never admit to it. I look forward to the next book in the series, hoping to spend even more time with her.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    I really liked Blood, Salt, Water. It absorbed me to the point where I was thinking about the plot and characters even when I wasn't reading. I woke at 4 am wondering just what Susan was really up to, had to turn on the light and finish it! Roxanna has disappeared. She's left her partner and her two children and simply vanished. The body that is found floating in the loch isn't hers. Susan Grierson has reappeared after many years away, apparently to settle her mother's estate. But her mother died t I really liked Blood, Salt, Water. It absorbed me to the point where I was thinking about the plot and characters even when I wasn't reading. I woke at 4 am wondering just what Susan was really up to, had to turn on the light and finish it! Roxanna has disappeared. She's left her partner and her two children and simply vanished. The body that is found floating in the loch isn't hers. Susan Grierson has reappeared after many years away, apparently to settle her mother's estate. But her mother died two years ago. Iain Fraser is having a psychotic episode, believing he has inhaled the spirit of the woman he killed, and it is now angrily residing inside him. There are a lot of different threads to this tale, all skillfully interwoven to form a compelling and dynamic read. Although this is #5 in the Alex Morrow series, it is able to be read as a stand alone. Thank you to NetGalley, Hachette Australia and author Denise Mina for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Iain Fraser hadn’t wanted to be there – but a debt had had to be paid. The result for him was intense feelings of guilt which he couldn’t shake. Even when his old teacher Miss Grierson, whom he hadn’t seen in decades, bumped into him, he couldn’t raise any enthusiasm to have a lengthy discussion with her. Miss Grierson had just returned to Scotland from where she had lived overseas – it seemed all the “old timers” were returning home. But her mother had recently passed and she needed to sort out Iain Fraser hadn’t wanted to be there – but a debt had had to be paid. The result for him was intense feelings of guilt which he couldn’t shake. Even when his old teacher Miss Grierson, whom he hadn’t seen in decades, bumped into him, he couldn’t raise any enthusiasm to have a lengthy discussion with her. Miss Grierson had just returned to Scotland from where she had lived overseas – it seemed all the “old timers” were returning home. But her mother had recently passed and she needed to sort out the estate – but was that really why she was back in Helensburgh? When DI Alex Morrow was alerted to the fact that Roxanna Fuentecilla was missing she was stunned. They had had her under continual surveillance – how could that have happened? But she had vanished, leaving her partner and two children behind. The circumstances were suspicious, but Morrow couldn’t make sense of it all. With drugs and money laundering in Morrow’s sights, she needed to keep her finger on the pulse – but it seemed that suddenly things had spiralled out of control. With minimal clues for the team to go on, would the gutsy but self-opinionated Morrow find the answers to the questions that had arisen? Though gritty and full of suspense, Blood Salt Water, the latest by author Denise Mina isn’t her best in my opinion. The story seemed choppy with characters that felt a little wooden, which made it difficult to connect to them. It also seemed a little drawn out at times and I found myself skipping sections. A little disappointing I’m afraid. With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy to read and review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    One thing I always say about Denise Mina is that she does not write the typical mystery or crime thriller. What she presents is so much more and this book, a compelling and tightly written exploration of the criminal psyche, is no exception. The reader gets to follow both criminal and police points of view and believe it or not, it becomes difficult not to sympathize with the bad guy. Or at least with one in particular. Is a man who commits murder and feels his victim clawing at his insides whil One thing I always say about Denise Mina is that she does not write the typical mystery or crime thriller. What she presents is so much more and this book, a compelling and tightly written exploration of the criminal psyche, is no exception. The reader gets to follow both criminal and police points of view and believe it or not, it becomes difficult not to sympathize with the bad guy. Or at least with one in particular. Is a man who commits murder and feels his victim clawing at his insides while guilt eats away at him truly an evil man? Do his very real guilt and subsequent actions in aid to the police at all mitigate what he has done? And then there’s his childhood to consider. It’s an insightful perspective of why people do the things they do, rather than who did what. DI Morrow is as cold and hard as she needs to be to solve the case and put the criminals away, even as she understands that not everything is black and white. She has a moment of clarity while trying to understand why she’s not absolutely furious with this guy. “He was determined to take responsibility but he was just a cog. She’d seen that many times before. It was a belief often borne of a traumatic childhood, it was so much more manageable to believe himself bad than the world.” As opposed to… “People who blamed everyone else or thought injustice was the natural order of things.” Just another mark of brilliance on Mina’s part. The Alex Morrow series begins with Still Midnight. If you’re looking for something distinctive in the crime genre, do check it out. And keep your eyes and ears open for those clever moments of insight.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Stayed up late to finish this one....Denise Mina writes a engrossing thriller every time. The characters are drawn ruthlessly true and emotionally naked. There is no sugar-coated, warm-fuzzy pleasantness. This is the fifth in a series featuring DI Alex Morrow and they have all shown a grim Glasgow and people hardened enough to face it. Excellent series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James

    I haven't read a book by Denise Mina since her novel, The Field of Blood, which was the first in her Paddy Meehan trilogy. I really enjoyed that book and don't know why I haven't read the rest of the trilogy, yet alone any of her other books, I just never seemed to get around to it. Which leads me to Blood, Salt, Water, which is her latest. And wow! What a read! This is apparently the fifth featuring her protagonist Alex Morrow and on the strength of this I might have to go back and read the oth I haven't read a book by Denise Mina since her novel, The Field of Blood, which was the first in her Paddy Meehan trilogy. I really enjoyed that book and don't know why I haven't read the rest of the trilogy, yet alone any of her other books, I just never seemed to get around to it. Which leads me to Blood, Salt, Water, which is her latest. And wow! What a read! This is apparently the fifth featuring her protagonist Alex Morrow and on the strength of this I might have to go back and read the other four, and then finish her Paddy Meehan trilogy, and then read everything else she has written. Alex Morrow is a well rounded character, as are all the other people to feature in the novel, but what most excites me about this book is the story itself. So many crime novels feature a serial killer or some variation of the theme. In fact, if memory serves me right, the Paddy Meehan novel I read had one. Quite frankly, I am tired of reading novels with deranged or psychotic killers murdering women or children in increasingly hideous way. Apart from the fact that real life serial killing is rare and that when it does occur the murders tend to be committed in less arcane and complex ways than those portrayed in pulp novels, there’s something a little sordid, a little sensationalist, a little voyeuristic about our obsession with what is quite frankly horrific crimes. This unedifying spectacle isn't helped by the fact that so often writers reduce their victims to what is little more than a carcass. So what is their left for someone who loves crime fiction but doesn't want to read about the antics of some psycho who wears other people’s skin? Gangsters? Yeah, but often that sinks into Mockney parody. A way through this dilemma is shown by Denise Mina in her latest book. Taking care not to give away any spoilers, the novel centres on an investigation into a drug dealing and money laundering gang. Through her description of Morrow watching surveillance footage we get to know the main target of this investigation, a woman called Roxanna Fuenticilla, in quite intimate detail. Which is important because she then disappears. Another character we get to know, again quite intimately, is a local thug who’s just killed and dumped a woman in a lake. These plot strands eventually come together thanks to a sinister professional criminal (and not who the reader thinks it’ll be, this books keeps you guessing until the end). What Denise Mina achieves, and does it with quite extraordinary aplomb, is to humanise almost all the participants in this crime novel. There's no pantomime serial killing and none of the characters are mere one-dimensional victims. The plot itself is quite ingenious, but what sets it apart is that you end up having at least some sympathy for all the major characters, even those who aren't exactly very nice.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Nobody writes a better mystery than Denise Mina. Her villains are complex and nuanced and not so very different than the police investigating their crimes. Atmospheric, believable and full of surprises, I slowed down to savour this novel. Alex Morrow, mother of twins, has a very complex case on her hands. What begins with a missing person, soon encompasses murders, money laundering and mafia-like gangs to deal with. From the surveillance footage to the two grannies, I wouldn't have missed a minu Nobody writes a better mystery than Denise Mina. Her villains are complex and nuanced and not so very different than the police investigating their crimes. Atmospheric, believable and full of surprises, I slowed down to savour this novel. Alex Morrow, mother of twins, has a very complex case on her hands. What begins with a missing person, soon encompasses murders, money laundering and mafia-like gangs to deal with. From the surveillance footage to the two grannies, I wouldn't have missed a minute of it. Reluctant killer Iain is a supremely sympathetic character as is the missing Roxanna Fuentecilla. I so loved following Morrow's thought processes as the case progresses. Brilliant!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Larraine

    The title of the book is based on the musings of a murderer who remembers being told that you can't get blood out with just water, you need salt and water to do it. DI Alex Morrow is involved in a program that is keeping an eye on an exotic beauty who has made a recent move to Glasgow to run an insurance business. When she disappears, her young son calls the police. Morrow traces her back to a small town where secrets are closely kept: a woman whose mother had died two years before comes back to The title of the book is based on the musings of a murderer who remembers being told that you can't get blood out with just water, you need salt and water to do it. DI Alex Morrow is involved in a program that is keeping an eye on an exotic beauty who has made a recent move to Glasgow to run an insurance business. When she disappears, her young son calls the police. Morrow traces her back to a small town where secrets are closely kept: a woman whose mother had died two years before comes back to town, a restaurant owner is bored with his life, a man is haunted by guilt, and a local business man reigns over a group of vicious and mindless thugs. This is a complicated book with what seems to be a lot of loose ends until they all tie together. As always, Mina is excellent.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Blood Salt Water is another gritty outing in the Alex Morrow series. Morrow and her colleagues are investigating the disappearance of Roxanna Fuentecilla, a recent transplant to Glasgow from London. There is great interest in her whereabouts as she is suspected to be part of a larger group that has dodgy schemes in progress. Breaking up this criminal ring and bringing them to justice has an added benefit for police in England and Scotland, access to confiscated money through the proceeds of crim Blood Salt Water is another gritty outing in the Alex Morrow series. Morrow and her colleagues are investigating the disappearance of Roxanna Fuentecilla, a recent transplant to Glasgow from London. There is great interest in her whereabouts as she is suspected to be part of a larger group that has dodgy schemes in progress. Breaking up this criminal ring and bringing them to justice has an added benefit for police in England and Scotland, access to confiscated money through the proceeds of crime legislation. Denise Mina weaves several plot threads throughout the narrative. Her character development is superlative, she provides enough of a back story for each individual for the reader to understand underlying motivation and shows an inherent empathy for people whose upbringing damaged their chances at life. Sadly, this appears to be the final book in the series. Perhaps Mina will revive it in the future. As she's a favourite author, I'll be here for anything she writes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan Radovich

    Yet again ANOTHER superb thriller from Mina. For first time readers, do not hesitate to pick this one up and begin what will be the first of MANY great adventures you find from Ms Mina. Her characters are multi-dimensional real people, some often thrown into bizarre circumstances; and you will have a hard time putting her books down. Scotland is her home and she writes about it with crisp prose laced with wit and acid. Mina shows the good and bad of her homeland in all of her works that I have r Yet again ANOTHER superb thriller from Mina. For first time readers, do not hesitate to pick this one up and begin what will be the first of MANY great adventures you find from Ms Mina. Her characters are multi-dimensional real people, some often thrown into bizarre circumstances; and you will have a hard time putting her books down. Scotland is her home and she writes about it with crisp prose laced with wit and acid. Mina shows the good and bad of her homeland in all of her works that I have read so far. BLOOD SALT WATER is filled with characters you will not soon forget, and Detective Inspector Alex Morrow shines in her fifth venture. Consider this an early Christmas or Hanukkah present to yourself; and make room on your bookshelves or e-reader for MORE Denise Mina works.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Goldenberg

    This is the first of Denise Mina's crime novels I've read. Alex Morrow is an interestingly taciturn main character whose family life is relevant to the plot but not over intrusive. The Hellensburgh setting is vividly described and the background of the Scottish independence referendum campaign provides added interest and topicality. My problem with the novel is that I found the plot too convoluted. Mina's is undoubtedly a very good writer but I feel that, in this novel, the narrative loses momen This is the first of Denise Mina's crime novels I've read. Alex Morrow is an interestingly taciturn main character whose family life is relevant to the plot but not over intrusive. The Hellensburgh setting is vividly described and the background of the Scottish independence referendum campaign provides added interest and topicality. My problem with the novel is that I found the plot too convoluted. Mina's is undoubtedly a very good writer but I feel that, in this novel, the narrative loses momentum because of the number of key characters involved. In the end, I didn't really care who was responsible for murdering the two women.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Chose this book to get a flavor of Scotland...e.g. disposal of a body in Loch Lomond. What could be better, eh? This was complex in the number of characters, scenes, criminal plots and then politics and philosophies in the mix. I did not care for it, but perhaps it requires reading the four books of the series before this one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Denise Mina’s Blood, Salt, Water (2015) is a crime thriller with female Police Scotland Detective Inspector (DI) Alex Morrow in the lead. It begins with the contract murder of (we think) Roxanna Fuentacilla, a young mother who has irritated the Glasgow crime bosses. Roxanna, a Columbian, is the manager of a company (Injury Claims for U) that specializes in processing insurance claims; the company is owned by Juan Pinzón Arias, a wealthy Columbian with more money than he can explain. Police Scotl Denise Mina’s Blood, Salt, Water (2015) is a crime thriller with female Police Scotland Detective Inspector (DI) Alex Morrow in the lead. It begins with the contract murder of (we think) Roxanna Fuentacilla, a young mother who has irritated the Glasgow crime bosses. Roxanna, a Columbian, is the manager of a company (Injury Claims for U) that specializes in processing insurance claims; the company is owned by Juan Pinzón Arias, a wealthy Columbian with more money than he can explain. Police Scotland had been following Roxanna on suspicion that she muled cocaine between the U.S. and her home country, but evidence was insufficient for action. Just as he killed Roxanna(?) one of the murderers, Iain Fraser, sensed that he knew her. Iain is a novice killer and he’s haunted into a psychotic state by what he’s done. His accomplice and friend, Tommy Farmer, is a seasoned killer for whom the murder barely registers. Soon a third character, fifty-something Susan Grierson (maybe), enters the scene. She seems to have a thing for men named Fraser: first she meets Boyd Fraser in his café, then she has a “chance” meeting with Iain Fraser. At his encounter with her, Iain has a faint memory that something bad had happened around Susan, but he can’t recall the details—Iain is a man of faint recollections. Susan takes Iain home with her—perhaps she just senses his distress and wants to calm him, or perhaps she wants him to buy her some cocaine, or perhaps it’s a setup. I found the initial introductions confusing, not only because they are so many but also because I’m usually befuddled by Scots’ English. It isn’t the heavy brogue, there is none of that in this book. It’s the regional references that give me pause. For example, something called a “Waitrose” appears frequently; it took me a while to realize that it is a supermarket chain. Or consider the statement, “They’ll Carstairs ye for that, man”—a thoroughly unintelligible comment to American ears. References to “hirple” add to the confusion. Oh, well, Churchill was right when he described Americans and Brits as one people separated by a common language. DI Morrow is assigned to the Fuenticilla case as a missing person matter; no body has been found because (we think) it is hundreds of feet down in Loch Lomond. This leads to interviews of Roxanna’s two young children and her English partner, as well as her company’s lawyer, Frank Delahunt. Delahunt’s job is winding up companies that have been used for (probably) money laundering. As we approach the denouement we see that another young woman with children is involved in the story: Hester Kirk was the office manager for Injury Claims for U until Roxanna arrived and fired her. Hester, who has a penchant for buying stuff with company funds, has also disappeared; the disappearance is little noticed by her three daughters. And there is a fire at the Sailor’s pub in which the owner and his daughter are toasted. It seems that bodies are popping up like builders’ grass. We soon realize that something does not smell right, and it’s not just the Loch Lomond body. What has been going on: Money laundering? Drug trafficking? Murder-for-hire? Is the Columbian connection drug-related? How many bodies are at the bottom of Loch Lomond? I’ll meet you at the deli section at the Waitrose and we can figure it all out. I’m the one with the hirple. Don’t get Carstaired before then! Three and ½ stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz Pruski

    "Lucy and Morrow smiled at each other, not warmly, just an acknowledgement that they were both there and both human." I love Blood, Salt, Water (2015). Denise Mina's outstanding prose still holds its own against even the most accomplished "real" literature. The unremarkable The Red Road was just a temporary failure and Ms. Mina is back to the brilliance of The End of the Wasp Season and Gods and Beasts. Although the novel begins with the brutal murder of a woman on the Loch Lomond dunes, "Lucy and Morrow smiled at each other, not warmly, just an acknowledgement that they were both there and both human." I love Blood, Salt, Water (2015). Denise Mina's outstanding prose still holds its own against even the most accomplished "real" literature. The unremarkable The Red Road was just a temporary failure and Ms. Mina is back to the brilliance of The End of the Wasp Season and Gods and Beasts. Although the novel begins with the brutal murder of a woman on the Loch Lomond dunes, this murder is not the main focus of the plot. DI Alex Morrow is working on the disappearance of a Spanish woman, Roxana Fuentecilla, who had set up a business in Scotland, and is under investigation by the Met and the Serious Fraud Office. The police are hoping to retrieve a significant amount of money and thus relieve some of their budget pressures. To me, the most interesting thread in the plot - one of the most compelling I have encountered in quite a long time - concerns the mysterious behavior of a woman who comes back to Scotland after a long stay in the U.S. Susan Grierson, in her late middle age, is the focal point of several crucial developments in the novel. The virtuoso scene where under the influence of cocaine she provides sexual favors - with a delicious twist! - to another main character is unforgettable. All threads seamlessly merge at the end and the neat solutions to the mysteries are convincing and plausible. Blood, Salt, Water is not a book that one reads to relax and leisurely pass the time; one can't just let the eyes glide over the pages. Reading this book requires work, but the effort pays off fabulously. The psychological portraits of the characters are absolutely convincing and the reader can learn a lot about the motives of human behavior. The depiction of Helensburgh (an actual seaside town northwest of Glasgow) and the characterizations of the local residents are so vivid that I feel I have known the town and its people for a long time. Ms. Mina has a perfect ear for dialogue and she captures exactly how people talk. Particularly stunning are the two conversation that DI Morrow has with Ms. Fuentecilla's children and - later in the novel - with Hester Kirk's daughters. But by far the best thing about Denise Mina's prose is that she understands that weakness is the defining feature of us humans, that all of us are weak in one way or another, that utter stupidity, vanity, envy, and all ways of greed are the most natural human traits. Ms. Mina does not condone weakness but neither does she condemn it. She understands. She knows. The stunning sentence that I used for the epigraph sounds awkward as a quote, but it is one of the best sentences I have read in a long time: "an acknowledgement that they were both there and both human." This extremely well written novel transcends the mystery genre, yet it also works great as a mystery. I have been toying with the idea of rounding my rating up to the five-star level reserved for literary masterpieces, but the novel is probably not as uniformly magnificent as Ms. Mina's Garnethill. Four and a half stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    A Reader's Heaven

    (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.) DI Alex Morrow and her team have been shadowing a woman suspected of being involved in a large drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation. Roxanna Fuentecilla recently moved from London to Glasgow in suspicious circumstances and Morrow's bosses want all the glory when she's finally arrested. But then Roxanna disappears. She's left her partner and her two children and something about the situation, and the c (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.) DI Alex Morrow and her team have been shadowing a woman suspected of being involved in a large drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation. Roxanna Fuentecilla recently moved from London to Glasgow in suspicious circumstances and Morrow's bosses want all the glory when she's finally arrested. But then Roxanna disappears. She's left her partner and her two children and something about the situation, and the children's evasive attitude, leads Morrow to question what's really going on. In the nearby picturesque town of Helensburgh, Iain Fraser is struggling to live with his overwhelming guilt. Under orders from the infamous Mark Barratt he's just killed a woman and now he's left with blood on his hands. Meanwhile Miss Grierson, a former scout leader who left the sleepy seaside town decades ago, has returned. Allegedly she's here to sort out her recently deceased mother's estate, but Iain knows her mother died over two years ago and suspects she has an ulterior motive. Having read and enjoyed both the Garnethill and Paddy Meehan series' by Denise Mina, I started reading this Alex Morrow series. Leading up to now, the series had been pretty good but this book seemed to stall a little bit for me. The good: characters play a big part in every story and those in this novel are well drawn out, especially the murderer. I felt something akin to sympathy for the one character who probably shouldn't elicit sympathy, but there you have it. I also found that the bad guy got nearly as much "page time" as the detectives...and that impressed me too. Gives the reader a good look at what the detectives are up against... Also, the mystery itself was fascinating. Several threads ran through this story (which, as most mystery readers will know, can be a good or bad thing!) and I did wonder how they were going to come together in the end but, as usual, Mina brings them to a nice conclusion, one that makes sense but doesn't try to overdo the surprise. The not-good: After saying that the depiction of the killer was well done, the same can't be said for Alex. I didn't really feel any growth from her in this novel. Secondly, the start was complicated, as all the characters seemed to invade the novel, one after the other. Finally, the Scottish setting was fine - but the Scottish dialogue, in particular the local references and lingo - made it difficult at times to get right into. Overall, a good mystery and a 'bad guy' that you can really get invested in. Paul ARH

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow has been featured in five books by Denise Mina. This was the last (so far) and was published in 2015. Mina is a diverse writer and her works have included novels, plays, radio plays, comics, and graphic novels.  Alex Morrow is a wonderfully complex character and it has been interesting to follow her progress through all five books. She's a detective in a smaller city in Scotland. She has an "anger management" problem and an authority issue. By this book she is marri Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow has been featured in five books by Denise Mina. This was the last (so far) and was published in 2015. Mina is a diverse writer and her works have included novels, plays, radio plays, comics, and graphic novels.  Alex Morrow is a wonderfully complex character and it has been interesting to follow her progress through all five books. She's a detective in a smaller city in Scotland. She has an "anger management" problem and an authority issue. By this book she is married, has twin sons, and her half-brother, a gang figure who figured in the earlier books, is now in prison. Alex helped put him there in book four. The book is written from several different perspectives. It begins with an ex-con named Ian who has killed a woman and helped to dump her body in a lake. This is the first crime that Morrow must help solve. It also tells the story of the owner of a local restaurant who finds himself involved with a woman who has returned to town, but who was familiar with both the restaurant owner and Ian when they were learning sailing in school.  In addition to the murder, Morrow is also following up on the disappearance of a beautiful Italian woman who is suspected of doing money laundering. She has become a subject of particular interest because whichever department can claim jurisdiction on her arrest will benefit from her seized assets, very attractive at a time of budget cuts and closed constabularies.  Another theme running through the book is the separatist vote in Scotland which ultimately failed but was at an emotional peak by the time this book was published. Mina manages to flesh out the backgrounds of the main characters of interest as she weaves the stories together, finally revealing a plot twist more unusual than even the dense and moody mystery would suggest.  Though part of a series, it's a fine stand-alone book that needs no catching up to dig into the story. Morrow is a hard and intelligent detective who is fun to follow, and there are other fascinating characters to carry the story along.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    God I love this writer. Her stories and characters are like life — multi-layered, simultaneously or alternating between unexpected and predictable, likeable and appalling, and everything in between. And the writing—! She employs the whole range: raw, rough, smooth, mellifluous (she actually uses once the word "immellifluous," and it is, astonishingly, just the right word, right there), and beautiful. One sentence that contains "lazy notes of yesterday" — probably not quoted quite right; couldn't God I love this writer. Her stories and characters are like life — multi-layered, simultaneously or alternating between unexpected and predictable, likeable and appalling, and everything in between. And the writing—! She employs the whole range: raw, rough, smooth, mellifluous (she actually uses once the word "immellifluous," and it is, astonishingly, just the right word, right there), and beautiful. One sentence that contains "lazy notes of yesterday" — probably not quoted quite right; couldn't find it again — turned up, singular and perfect, in just the right place, at the right time, to make the reader experience it as the character does. "A pang of chemical regret"— what a knockout expression. And the description of a colleague Dickensianly named "Thankless" as "aggravatingly declamatory" made me laugh out loud. (And he is, too.) I had trouble putting this down to go to sleep. First thing I picked up this morning, read till the end. Even read the acknowledgements, would have read the index if she'd included one.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tara Russell

    Mina doesn't take the easy way out with her characters - black and white do merge into shades of grey and Mina casts an unflinching eye on their behaviours and motivations. That said, DI Morrow was well drawn, as was her relationship with her jailed brother and her professional interactions, but some of the other characters were a bit pale. The most sympathetic character in the book, for me, was a murderer. Impeccable character creation. [I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest Mina doesn't take the easy way out with her characters - black and white do merge into shades of grey and Mina casts an unflinching eye on their behaviours and motivations. That said, DI Morrow was well drawn, as was her relationship with her jailed brother and her professional interactions, but some of the other characters were a bit pale. The most sympathetic character in the book, for me, was a murderer. Impeccable character creation. [I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Detective Alex Morrow investigates the disappearance of a wealthy Spanish woman who the London and Glasgow have been investigating for fraud. At the same time a woman's body appears in a loch in Helensburgh, a wealthy enclave. Alex discovers the two incidents are related and is relentless in trying to solve both. I think this is a book that I think would have been better if I'd read rather than listened as I didn't always keep track of all the ins and outs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Gray

    Just couldn't get to grips with this. I enjoyed the others in this series but I just couldn't connect with this one. The first chapter was ok as far as it goes but I don't really enjoy the murder and murderers being revealed in chapter one. Then it got really convoluted and messily political. Sorry not for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Finding books that hold my attention has been difficult lately so when I find a series that works I stick with it. My only problem with these books is that my philosophy on profanity differs from the author's significantly. My problem, not the author's. Her writing is consistently excellent: the Glascow setting, the precisely honed characters, and the complex plots are completely immersive.

  23. 4 out of 5

    JMacDonald

    Final book in this series - hoping for more maybe. I will be exploring her other series/titles.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Alex Morrow, DI with the Scotland Police, has a strong moral compass that is constantly being beaten about by bad guys, her superior officers, and even her family. She may not catch very many breaks, but she manages to figure out whodunit every time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marissa Morrison

    Masterful dialogue (much of which is humorous) makes for many distinctive characters.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luce Cronin

    As always, a great , complex story that , because of its imbedded reflections, makes it much more than a murder mystery.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    Blood, Salt, Water is the fifth installment in Denise Mina’s series featuring Glasgow police detective Alex Morrow. Normally, by the fourth or fifth in a mystery series, the work begins to fray around the edges. Certain habits develop and repeat, the featured detective cuts her hair with a nail scissors for the umpteenth time and you know a great character has been drained of life. That is not so with Denise Mina and her Alex Morrow series. In fact, each installment takes her farther and farther Blood, Salt, Water is the fifth installment in Denise Mina’s series featuring Glasgow police detective Alex Morrow. Normally, by the fourth or fifth in a mystery series, the work begins to fray around the edges. Certain habits develop and repeat, the featured detective cuts her hair with a nail scissors for the umpteenth time and you know a great character has been drained of life. That is not so with Denise Mina and her Alex Morrow series. In fact, each installment takes her farther and farther from the stale tropes of genre fiction into a new kind of mystery series that defies conventions. I think Mina is aware of the tendency multi-book series have to become stale. After all, Alex Morrow is her third series and she cut limited her first two (Garnethill and Paddy Meeham) to three books. With Alex Morrow, she addresses this by adding new characters and losing some important ones and by changing venue. In Blood, Salt, Water she takes us out of Glasgow to Helensburgh, a relatively prosperous and very picturesque town on Loch Lomond. It is one of those towns where everybody may not know everyone else, but they certainly know of them. The story begins with the murder of a woman just outside Helensburgh. There’s no mystery though, we are present in Iain Fraser’s mind as he bludgeons her to death. We pretty much know who, how and why from the outset, but this is no simple procedural focusing on the police efforts to catch this criminal anything-but-mastermind. The police and in particular, Alex Morrow, are more interested in tracking a missing person, Roxana Fuentecilla, a woman whom they have been surveilling, a woman Morrow finds herself liking despite the assumption she is part of a criminal enterprise. A third person, Boyd Fraser, local Helensburgh restauranteur and evangelist of farm-to-table cuisine, is another person we follow in her pursuit of a bit of a coke and a bit of a debauch. As the narrative jumps from one to the other, we discover how small the town is, how people are connected and h0w they are divided. Boyd is one of the Lawnmore Frasers while Iain is one of the Colquin Frasers and that makes quite a difference. The rest of my review can be read here

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Feit

    From the publisher: A wealthy businesswoman disappears from her Glasgow home without a trace, leaving her husbandand children panicked but strangely resistant to questioning. Tracing the woman’s cell phone records, police detective Alex Morrow discovers a call made from an unlikely location. A sleepy seaside community, Helensburgh is the last place you’d go looking for violence. But Morrow’s investigation uncovers disturbing clues and a dead body in a nearby lake. When a connection to someone cl From the publisher: A wealthy businesswoman disappears from her Glasgow home without a trace, leaving her husbandand children panicked but strangely resistant to questioning. Tracing the woman’s cell phone records, police detective Alex Morrow discovers a call made from an unlikely location. A sleepy seaside community, Helensburgh is the last place you’d go looking for violence. But Morrow’s investigation uncovers disturbing clues and a dead body in a nearby lake. When a connection to someone close to her surfaces, the case gets more personal than she could have imagined. In this newest book featuring DI Alex Morrow, she is assisted by DCs McGrain and Thankless [the anticipated jokes I looked for never appearing, surprisingly], working out of the London Road Police Station of Police Scotland. There is a lot made of the upcoming referendum on independence, with every inhabitant apparently wearing stickers identifying which side they were on. There are a number of men and women introduced who indulge in local crime, many of them having spent time in prison. It became a bit difficult to distinguish among them after a while, I must admit. One who stands out, however, is Danny McGrath, Morrow’s half-brother, “a well-known and feared Glasgow gangster until he was sentenced to eight years for conspiracy to commit murder . . . who was carrying on his business vicariously from prison,” who appears almost exclusively in Morrow’s preoccupation with him. “They all knew that the black economy was essential. Men like Danny were responsible for twenty percent of global GDP. If justice was done and they were all imprisoned, the world economy would collapse. Civilisations would fall.” The title references the two substances, salt and water, that can wash away the first of them, blood. The novel is engrossing, although I found this entry in the series somewhat hard to follow, as were its characters. However, this author always provides interesting narratives, and as all her earlier novels, it is recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Unflinching, taut and masterfully plotted, Blood, Salt, Water is the brilliant fifth novel in the Alex Morrow series from two-time Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award–winning author Denise Mina DI Alex Morrow and her team have been shadowing a woman suspected of being involved in a large drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation. Roxanna Fuentecilla recently moved from London to Glasgow under suspicious circumstances, and Morrow's bosses want all the glory when she's finall Unflinching, taut and masterfully plotted, Blood, Salt, Water is the brilliant fifth novel in the Alex Morrow series from two-time Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award–winning author Denise Mina DI Alex Morrow and her team have been shadowing a woman suspected of being involved in a large drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation. Roxanna Fuentecilla recently moved from London to Glasgow under suspicious circumstances, and Morrow's bosses want all the glory when she's finally arrested. But then Roxanna disappears. She's left her partner and her two children, and something about the situation, and the children's evasive attitude, leads Morrow to question what's really going on. In the nearby picturesque town of Helensburgh, Iain Fraser is struggling to live with his overwhelming guilt. Under orders from the infamous Mark Barratt, he's just killed a woman, and now he's left with blood on his hands. Meanwhile, Miss Grierson, a former scout leader who left the sleepy seaside town decades ago, has returned. Allegedly she's back to sort out her recently deceased mother's estate, but Iain suspects she has an ulterior motive. Miss Grierson, is an imposter, she kills Roxanna and takes the children to their father in Ecuador. Iain kills the woman in Roxanna's company who is stealing on the order of Mark Barratt and to wipe out a debt for his friend. The friend and his daughter are killed by Tommy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    Another great thriller from the never disappointing Denise Mina. No. 5 in the Alex Morrow series is a quite convoluted and complicated story. At the same time as I really appreciated that and thought it brought a nice sense of mystery, it did slow the pace at some places and also brought the need for some long explanations that stalled the narrative. This is the reason - the only reason - for the missing star. The best part without a doubt is the fantastic characters. Including Morrow herself, t Another great thriller from the never disappointing Denise Mina. No. 5 in the Alex Morrow series is a quite convoluted and complicated story. At the same time as I really appreciated that and thought it brought a nice sense of mystery, it did slow the pace at some places and also brought the need for some long explanations that stalled the narrative. This is the reason - the only reason - for the missing star. The best part without a doubt is the fantastic characters. Including Morrow herself, they are all complex and realistic. Quite a dark story, as always, and also a great continuation of the overall story arc. Everything Denise has ever written is highly recommended by me and this one did not change that.

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