The End of the Wasp Season Review
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Radiant heiresses and wealthy young playboys often grace the pages of glossy gossip mags. As we read about their shopping sprees and jet-setting holidays, it’s hard not to envy their fabulous lives. But as author Denise Mina’s latest Alex Morrow novel shows, there’s so much more to rich kids’ lives than just wealth and power and fabulous vacations.

Sarah Erroll was still mourning the loss of her mother when she was brutally murdered in her childhood home in Glasgow. The next day, Detective Inspector Alex Morrow is called in to investigate the case. Five months pregnant with twins and dealing with more than her share of family drama and office politics, she’s not exactly in the mood to handle such a brutal case. But she feels that the men have disconnected themselves from the victim, who died in horrible circumstances, with no family left behind—so she puts all of her energy into finding Sarah’s killers.

Morrow’s investigation into Sarah’s death leads her to uncover some upsetting things about the victim’s past, but it also leads her to her own past—as well as to disgraced millionaire Lars Anderson, who hung himself from a tree outside his mansion, hundreds of miles away.

Alternately following Morrow’s slowly unfolding investigation and the Anderson family’s inevitable collapse, The End of the Wasp Season tells a complex story about family—about loyalty, jealousy, and long-held secrets.

While the story is interesting, though, the characters feel rather indistinct. Alex Morrow is a wonderfully complex character, with so many stories to tell about her youth, her family, her coworkers, and her troubled husband—but none of it is ever really fleshed out into something concrete. To be fair, this is Mina’s second Alex Morrow novel (after Still Midnight), and the character could have been more developed in the previous novel (though, after reading Margaret’s review, I doubt it). But while there are hints of character development, nothing feels definite—and it’s hard to pull the pieces together to turn them into something meaningful.

The same is true when it comes to the investigation. Sarah Erroll has an intriguing story to tell, but readers get only bits and pieces of it. As Morrow and her team collect clues to solve Sarah’s murder, they find a fascinating character in their victim—a woman who made some major sacrifices to support her ailing mother. But instead of telling her story, Mina merely offers enough clues to help Morrow solve the mystery. The rest of her story is left frustratingly incomplete, leaving readers with too many questions about her past, her relationships, and even her connection to the Andersons. Morrow fears that Sarah has become a faceless and insignificant victim in the eyes of the investigators—but that seems to be what she’s become in the eyes of the author.

The End of the Wasp Season offers some eye-opening observations about wealth, power, and family bonds. But the obscure storytelling and patchy character development mean that much of the story’s mystery is left unsolved when you reach the final page, making it a hazy and sometimes frustrating read.

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