The Dead Hour Review
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Paddy Meehan, a night reporter for the Scottish Daily News, works the dead houróthe time of night when those with a clear conscience are sleeping. The rest are out on the streets hiding in dark corners, plotting their next nefarious deed. On one such night, Paddy is summoned to a domestic dispute in an upscale villa. As the police question the man who answers the door, Paddy sees a young woman, part of her face covered in blood, step back out of sight. The man presses 50 quid into Paddyís hand and tells her to keep the incident out of the papers. Thinking the woman is nothing more than a spoiled trophy wife who doesnít have enough sense to leave when she can, Paddy doesnít try very hard to give the money back. Besides, the man shut the door in her face without giving her a chance to protest. The next morningís headlines tell of the womanís death, her head bashed in with a hammer. And she was not at all what Paddy had thought her to be.

Feeling more than a little guilty, Paddy sets out to discover why Vhari Burnett, a lawyer with a social conscience, hadnít left his house under police protection. When Mark Thillingly, another lawyer who worked with Vhari, is pulled out of the river as an apparent suicide, the police believe he murdered Vhari and then killed himself. But it doesnít really make sense to Paddy. Mark wasnít the man at the door, so she continues to investigate, hoping to make things right, prevent someone else from dying, and write a story thatíll secure her place with the newspaper.

Character driven and absorbing, The Dead Hour keeps you wondering what in the heck is going on. Though the mystery spends time in the background in order to develop Paddy Meehanís intriguing character, itís still there, driving questions to your mind. Why didnít Vhari Burnett leave when the police came to her rescue? Who is Kate, the cocaine addict who drives around in a BMW with a valuable ďpillowĒ in the trunk? Why did Mark Thillingly kill himself? And how are these characters connected to each other?

I especially liked how unglamorous Ms. Mina portrayed cocaine addiction. Iíve never actually seen anyone hooked on this stuff, but the author did a great job describing it, and I canít imagine why anyone would do that to themselves and keep on doing it even after they realize whatís happening. It might give more than one teenager pause before picking up the habit.

Paddy Meehan is fast becoming one of my favorite characters of all time, and for a while I didnít know whyóbut then I realized itís because of her very real human traits. Sheís not movie-star perfect, and she doesnít always choose the smart thing to do, but how many of us do? Sheís strong and vulnerable at the same time, making her a very likeable person.

Iím definitely eager to delve into Denise Minaís backlist, and I look forward to future works from this gifted author.

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