Title: The Long Drop
Author: Denise Mina
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: April 1, 2017
I was kind of excited when I saw this on Netgalley. Granted it's only a one chapter preview, but it's a literary novel about a crime that actually happened. I always maintain that the scariest stores are the ones that about real life events where we can't laugh the monsters away as a Jason-esque figment of an overactive imagination. Deep down we know that they aren't real. It's what makes books like The Devil in the White City so chilling, as we cannot deny the existence of serial killers like H. H. Holmes.
The "trial of the century" in 1950's Glasgow is over. Peter Manuel has been found guilty of a string of murders and is waiting to die by hanging. But every good crime story has a beginning. Manuel's starts with the murder of William Watt's family. Looking no further that Watt himself, the police are convinced he's guilty. Desperate to clear his name, Watt turns to Manuel, a career criminal who claims to have information that will finger the real killer. As Watt seeks justice with the cagey Manuel's help, everyone the pair meets has blood on their hands as they sell their version of the truth. THE LONG DROP is an explosive novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.
A disclaimer is needed here: this review is based solely on the first chapter of the book and I also was unaware that Peter Manuel existed prior to reading this chapter. The latter will likely work in my favor slightly, since it's always more entertaining when you discover true crimes via books or other entertainment media. (Within reason, of course. Some of those Hollywood flicks will occasionally distort the truth to the point where the entire thing might as well be fiction.)
When I went into this I was expecting this chapter to open more along the lines of The Devil in the White City, where we're given a nice little info dump about the time period and the basic plot of the book. We get this to a certain extent, but for the most part we're left to figure things out on our own. This wouldn't be an issue except for the fact that two of the chapter's central figures (Manuel and Watt) start a conversation by shouting at one another across a table in a manner that was frankly quite disorienting. I'm not sure if this is intentional or not, since I only have the first chapter to go by - if it's intentional then it's well done, but if not then it makes me a little leery about the rest of the book.
Still, the idea of a handsome, charismatic serial killer is one that intrigues and horrifies, as it's all too easy to picture serial killers as creepy, ugly, or anything other than ordinary or handsome looking. It's those murderers that always sink beneath our skins the quickest since they're not just a boogeyman (or boogeylady), they're an anti-NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) and proof that terrible things can happen anywhere and to anyone. Despite being a little disoriented, Mina does a decent job of setting Manuel as a creepy individual whose physical appearance belies his inner, monstrous personality.
Rating: N/A, since it's just a chapter
(Chapter ARC provided by Netgalley)