Paddy (Patricia) Meehan, who makes her debut in Denise Mina's Field of Blood, is unlike Maisie Dobbs in everything except her smarts and appeal. Self-consciously overweight, scrappy, from a tight-knit, Catholic working-class family in gritty 1980s Glasgow, Paddy works as a "copy boy" for the Scottish Daily New, trying to forge a career as an investigative journalist amid a bunch of hard-drinking, foul-mouthed male chauvinists. When a small boy is brutally murdered and two 11-year-olds are accused of the crime, Paddy discovers that one of them is her fiancŽ's cousin. Setting out to investigate the case on her own, she finds herself in a morass of moral dilemmas and mortal danger. Mina's writing, her sense of place and social fabric and her keenly delineated characters surpass genre designation. This is more than crime fiction, and Heather O'Neill's intelligent performance with its authentic Scot's burr is a perfect match for it.

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