“Conviction” by Denise Mina is the kind of book which should be started with as little knowledge of the plot as possible. Anna lives a normal life with her lawyer husband, Hamish, and her two girls. Hamish is leaving Anna for her best friend and is taking the girls with him.
Anna avoids social media at all costs, trying to hide from her past. The same fateful morning Hamish breaks the news, Anna is listening to a true-crime podcast called “Death and the Dana” and learns an old friend from her past life, Leon, is dead. These two events, along with a photo of her and her distinctive scar ending up on Twitter, drive the plot of the novel.
Anna and Fin, a famous musician and the husband of her former best friend, head off on a twisted road trip as she tries to process everything that is happening. Anna is running away from her present, toward her past and hopefully toward finding out what really happened to Leon that night on the Dana. On top of all this, she is also on the run from people trying to kill her. Fin just happens to be along for the ride.
The book is written from Anna’s point of view. This, combined with the podcast elements, gives the book a narrative style that feels almost non-fiction. As a result, the plot moves a bit slowly at times, but never feels boring. It is very journalistic in a way that gives the events more depth and makes the reader feel as if they are reading a true account and not a work of fiction.
However, some plot points remind you of the fictitious elements of the novel. Certain events leave the reader questioning why and how, especially during the final chapters. In some ways, it feels as if the author decided it would be easier to leave the reader questioning than to try and make sense of it. The plot, at times, is over the top and unlikely, but it is done in a way that sucks the reader in and keeps them invested.
The book is so gripping because Mina takes the ordinary, everyday aspects of life and flips them on their head with one event. While some plot points may be far-fetched, countless people listen to true-crime podcasts or use reading as a way to escape. As crazy as the rest of Anna’s life is, these aspects lend to a sense of relatability with the reader.
The transitions from the podcast episodes to Anna and Fin on the road are seamless. Periodically, Anna’s thoughts interrupt an episode, but they never retract from the story. Anna is an intense main character; because of her opinions, feelings, anger and fear, she is a force to be reckoned with. The reader quickly becomes addicted to her and her new and rocky companionship with Fin as the book progresses.
This book is perfect for fans of the mystery-thriller genre. It is the complete package with its intense main character, confused but means-well companion, a brief road trip and the slightly unrealistic plot. It is the perfect addition to the ever-growing list of summer beach reads.