MYSTERY

The Less Dead

Mulholland: Little, Brown. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780316528511. $28. M
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Physician Margo Dunlop has a lot going on when she first meets her birth family. Her adoptive mother, Janette, has died, leaving Margo just days to clean out Janette’s house (where she found hidden letters from her birth aunt, Nikki Brodie, asking for her help). Margo also just broke up with her partner, Joe, then discovered that she’s pregnant. Margo learns from Nikki that her birth mother, Susan Brodie, a prostitute who got clean of drugs during her pregnancy, was murdered at the age of 19, months after Margo was born, becoming the fourth of nine prostitutes killed in Glasgow during that time. Now Nikki wants Margo’s help in finding the murderer. Initially ambivalent about having a relationship with Nikki, Margo starts receiving anonymous letters from the same person, with an intimate knowledge of Susan’s murder, who has been writing Nikki and is now watching her.
VERDICT Mina’s (Conviction; The Long Drop) concern with the effects of class on individual lives is evident, as Margo learns about sex workers, coming to admire Susan as she ferrets out the reason for her death. As the plot gains speed to a startling and abrupt end, readers will be left agasp and wanting more. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/19.]

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