Gods and Beasts is the third novel featuring DS Alex Morrow and follows her investigation into a pre-Christmas post office shooting and robbery. While she tries to unravel the mystery, Alex just wants to be home with her new twin boys and husband. Woven in is the mysterious young man who cared for a boy while his grandfather was shot, increasing amounts of police bribery, and a corrupt MP fighting scandalous allegations.
Mina is known for her deep, psychological crime fiction, and I expected Gods and Beasts to be on par or better than End of the Wasp Season. I am afraid this newest installment fell a little short of its predecessor. It is several pages before we even see Alex Morrow, our protagonist, and the lack of focus on her makes the book feel very full. There are countless characters all involved in various schemes, and even I had a hard time remembering which names fit into which story. The entire MP storyline could have been lifted from the book without a lot of bother. It only sheds light on the major ending twist; a twist that could have been delivered another way easily. Instead, Mina’s desire to delve into the political feels misplaced and could have been more powerful in another novel.
One thing that worked very well in Gods and Beasts was Morrow’s new motherhood. Mina is one of the few crime authors I’ve read that has had her main character be personally successful. In fact, during Bloody Scotland, Mina mentioned that she wanted “to write a cop who is very happy at home, just to be outrageous.” Morrow’s desire to be at home, her appreciation for her “second-chance at motherhood”, and her desire to push forward in her life were quite refreshing. She even admits her familial connection with half-brother mobster Danny to her bosses, just to prove she isn’t ashamed of who she is. I loved that about her, the strength it must have taken. DS Alex Morrow has shown one of the better character progressions in Scottish crime fiction, and Mina shows great restraint in not mucking it up for drama.
Gods and Beasts is still a fantastic read, even if it did have a high standard to live up to with End of the Wasp Season. While it lacks the same depth in its criminals that we have gotten more often from Mina, she does bring a new twist to a genre that constantly redefines itself in Scotland. Now if we could just have gotten rid of Kenny Gallagher MP, the story would be tight.