Denise Mina's crime novels fall into that appealingly different subgenre where the whodunit and the why-dunit are not quite as important as the nuanced description of the leading character and her circumstances. Paddy (Patricia) Meehan, who made her debut last year, returns in The Dead Hour, read by Heather O'Neill in a Scots burr that would please Robby Burns. Now a crime reporter working the night beat, Paddy's still smart and smart-mouthed, still fighting an uphill battle in the tough male-dominated newspaper world, and still more interesting than the miscreants and murderers she encounters on the job. And Mina's grim, gritty early '80s Glasgow, with its bone-cracking cold and rampant unemployment, is still a taciturn character as well as the setting for a nasty killing, a suicide and police corruption on high. Solving this case may save Paddy's job, but it will put her in harm's way, a risk she has to take.

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