Conviction by Denise Mina #BookReview #BlogTour

It’s just a normal morning when Anna's husband announces that he's leaving her for her best friend and taking their two daughters with him.

With her safe, comfortable world shattered, Anna distracts herself with someone else's story: a true-crime podcast. That is until she recognises the name of one of the victims and becomes convinced that only she knows what really happened.

With nothing left to lose, she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, Anna's past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Conviction today. Many thanks to Denise Mina and Hope Ndaba from Vintage for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

Anna has spent years telling lies. She informs us of this in the prologue where she also refers to a previous life she says she ruined by telling the truth. At the start of the book she is married to Hamish, a successful lawyer and the mother of two young girls. She is on the parents' council of their school and goes to yoga classes with her best friend, Estelle. It's immediately obvious that the marriage is troubled, they have been attending couples counselling sessions but the story Anna has created for herself seems to be solid. Stories matter to Anna; she has made up her own but also appreciates the act of storytelling and enjoys becoming immersed in the stories of others  - particularly through true-crime podcasts. When she learns Hamish is leaving her for Estelle, she notes that she is in the wrong story,
'I was in a family saga about a May-to-December couple and their two eccentric daughters. Our troubles were minor, our conundrums comedic. Only I wasn't in that story at all. I was in a love story and I wasn't even a central character. I was the 'all' their love would overcome.'
Anna's self-deprecating manner of describing events meant I immediately warmed to her although it's evident throughout that she isn't always the easiest of people to be with. One of the things I loved most about Conviction is that Anna is given the dignity of being allowed to be rude and angry. She isn't the plucky victim, bravely seeking justice, she is an irascible woman who has done what she needed to in order to survive, and after years in hiding, is finally ready to allow her real self to be known again. Her father's dark history looms over her and as the book progresses, she takes perverse pleasure in finding herself in real danger.
She is joined by Estelle's husband, Fin who comes with his own intense problems and their relationship is one of the highlights of the book for me. He was once in a hugely successful band but although they quickly imploded, he is still a well-known face and so constantly attracts attention. Most of the novel is written from Anna's first-person perspective which allows her black humour to be at the forefront of her interactions with Fin and I loved her descriptions of their arguments. She frequently insults him yet still seeks to protect him from the danger presented by others and from his own troubles. Likewise, he suspects she may be delusional and possibly violent but stays with her even when he has the opportunity to leave. Though an unlikely pairing, her fatalistic attitude to life and his self-destructiveness means their spiky relationship is utterly compelling.
Conviction is about stories and so interspersed throughout the novel are the transcripts from the podcast which prompted Anna to look into what really happened to the passengers of the Dana, a supposedly cursed yacht which sank killing the family aboard - including an old friend of hers. As Anna listens to the narrator's supposition as to what happened, she is convinced that she can discover the truth. Social media features strongly throughout Conviction, with Fin's fame becoming both detrimental and beneficial to their investigation as he invites the attention he still needs, despite recognising the often harmful results.
Early in the book, Anna mentions the collective nature of storytelling in the Arabian Nights and as Conviction progresses, it becomes clear that although it's a thriller, it is also about the way in which different people's stories intersect and converge; the layers of different lives and experiences meaning something different to each individual even when some of the moments are shared. Conviction features some appalling acts of violence but what is just as upsetting is the revelation that in her past life, Anna's story wasn't believed, with the role social and traditional media plays in wrecking lives feeling particularly relevant.
Conviction is a complete joy to read; intriguing, surprising and darkly funny, with complex characters who are nothing less than completely real. I highly recommend it.

Convictions is published by Vintage, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Denise Mina is the author of the Garnethill trilogy, the Paddy Meehan series and the Alex Morrow series. She has won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award twice and was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2014. The Long Drop won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017 and the Gordon Burn Prize. Conviction is the co-winner of the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2019 and it was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club. Denise has also written plays and graphic novels, and presented television and radio programmes. She lives and works in Glasgow.
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