The Long Drop
A standalone psychological thriller from the acclaimed author of the Alex Morrow novels that exposes the dark hearts of the guilty...and the innocent.The "trial of the century" in 1950's Glasgow is over. Peter Manuel has been found guilty of a string of murders and is waiting to die by hanging. But every good crime story has a beginning. Manuel's starts with the murder of William Watt's family. Looking no further that Watt himself, the police are convinced he's guilty. Desperate to clear his name, Watt turns to Manuel, a career criminal who claims to have information that will finger the real killer. As Watt seeks justice with the cagey Manuel's help, everyone the pair meets has blood on their hands as they sell their version of the truth. The Long Drop is an explosive novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.

The Long Drop Details

TitleThe Long Drop
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseMay 23rd, 2017
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN0316380571
ISBN-139780316380577
Number of pages240 pages
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Fiction, Historical, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Cultural, Scotland, Literary Fiction

The Long Drop Review

  • Richard
    January 11, 2017
    The Long Drop is based on true events; it refers to a method of capital punishment. The story builds to and ends with the judicial hanging of Peter Manuel. It begins about the time I was born and for no other reason than this would pique my interest. However, it is the writing in broad strokes and highlighting the finer details that sustains my enjoyment of the writing, about a Glasgow perhaps no longer remembered but a murderer who will never be forgotten.You feel that Mina has sat you down in The Long Drop is based on true events; it refers to a method of capital punishment. The story builds to and ends with the judicial hanging of Peter Manuel. It begins about the time I was born and for no other reason than this would pique my interest. However, it is the writing in broad strokes and highlighting the finer details that sustains my enjoyment of the writing, about a Glasgow perhaps no longer remembered but a murderer who will never be forgotten.You feel that Mina has sat you down in a room and is narrating a dark tale on a stormy evening. You know you will not be able to go to bed before she has concluded her account and then whatever is left of the night you will be robbed of sleep by the impact of this story.What I loved in the opening chapter was the command of the story that allows like the best teachers or great orators to digress briefly without the audience becoming tense or bored. So, with The Long Drop on the very first page Mina has the time and the assurance to go off on another track about the history of Glasgow. This continues throughout the book taking the reader on a journey from a time the loosely know with asides to bring it up to date or hang references on like a guide taking you around the city.For me it re-enforces the authenticity of the world she is recalling and affirming to the reader. Its time and location are as important as the characters contained within the novel for the story to be fully understood.It reminded me at times of Burial Rites.by Hannah Kent which I read over 3 years ago, However, The Long Drop is darker and drips in menace. It has the sense of foreboding and like Mrs Manual feels that violence is just a breath away.Denise Mina has great insights into human nature and her dialogue and prose remain tense and true to the ear.There is no glory in this retelling of horrific crimes but how the author recounts the possible events as well as encounters around the trial, conviction and execution brings a sense of understanding contemporary events. She spends time on all the characters and even introduces the natural humour that often occurs in tense situations and solemn proceedings. I enjoyed the reality of the sectarian Glasgow given and the crime often ignored or unable to prosecute. The city appears littered with thuggery and the story of the providence in the guns used in the crimes detailed so the availability of weapons and the casual way they changed hands.I loved the faith, love and honesty displayed and shown in the character of Manual's mum., in stark contrast to his father.Wonderful, enticing and a glimpse at what appears to be a book about truth and consequences; at a time of long nights, black cityscapes and dark hearts. However, Mina hints at wider involvement and the limits of police investigations prior to DNA evidence and communities where no-one spoke with or grassed to the police. I do not like true crime novels but in this author's hands and with her creative mind and thorough research she has demonstrated her affinity with Glasgow and provided a book few who read it will ever forget.
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  • Sandy
    March 29, 2016
    This is a literary retelling of the final days & trial of Peter Manuel, a serial killer who was hanged in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison on July 11, 1958. Nicknamed “the Beast of Birkenshaw”, he was convicted of 7 murders & suspected of others. On Sept. 17, 1956 Glasgow businessman William Watt’s wife, daughter & sister-in-law were murdered while he was away on a trip. But police were under tremendous pressure to make an arrest & decided Watt was as good a suspect as any. He spent mo This is a literary retelling of the final days & trial of Peter Manuel, a serial killer who was hanged in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison on July 11, 1958. Nicknamed “the Beast of Birkenshaw”, he was convicted of 7 murders & suspected of others. On Sept. 17, 1956 Glasgow businessman William Watt’s wife, daughter & sister-in-law were murdered while he was away on a trip. But police were under tremendous pressure to make an arrest & decided Watt was as good a suspect as any. He spent more than 2 months in prison until prominent lawyer Lawrence Dowdall secured his release. Watt went on to spend much of the next year carrying out his own investigation in an effort to clear his name. On Jan. 1,1958 another family was murdered & from then on, Manuel’s days were numbered. Much has been written about the case & the author stays true to the facts while adding her own spin on some of the unanswered questions. The story has 2 main threads that are told in alternating chapters. The first takes place over the course of one night in Dec. 1957 as she imagines a meeting between Watt & Manuel. We follow them as they hit every bar in town, both with private agendas. Watt believes Manuel knows where the murder weapon is & he wants it. And Manuel…..well, he just wants money & someone to toy with.The other thread begins 6 months later in 1958 as Peter Manuel goes on trial. One by one we hear from all those called to testify including Manuel’s parents & Watt himself. As both story lines progress, ugly truths are gradually revealed as we follow the 2 MC’s in dual time lines. Mina does a wonderful job of slowly peeling back the layers of these 2 complex characters. Watt initially comes across as a crass, nouveau riche social climber desperate for respect. But it’s her portrait of Manuel that makes your blood run cold. He can turn from charming manipulator to violent sociopath in a heartbeat & will genuinely make your skin crawl. It’s like watching a chess game between 2 well matched opponents & there’s a continuous power shift as they try to outmanoeuvre each other. It’s stylishly written & rich in period detail. Glasgow in the 1950’s is another character in itself. Parts of the blackened city would later be levelled but at the time it was a dark & gritty place with well known gangsters controlling their turf. It also illustrates the popular beliefs & societal prejudices at a time when the class system was still in effect. This is not a thriller in the traditional sense as most of the violence is described in retrospect. There is much more dialogue than action. It’s a thought provoking & psychological study of 2 flawed men that keeps you guessing & I particularly enjoyed the author’s twist on how Watt’s family ended up dead. Who knows….maybe it’s true.
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  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    March 29, 2016
    I received an exclusive extract of the first chapter of The Long Drop thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing in exchange for an early review.What atmospheric brilliance! This first chapter had me stepping back in time feeling myself immersed in another time and place as the modern day around me slipped away. As I settled into the rhythm of the writing I found it hypnotic and enticing and quite simply wanted more, one chapter was not going to be enough. Mina's characters are instantly aliv I received an exclusive extract of the first chapter of The Long Drop thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing in exchange for an early review.What atmospheric brilliance! This first chapter had me stepping back in time feeling myself immersed in another time and place as the modern day around me slipped away. As I settled into the rhythm of the writing I found it hypnotic and enticing and quite simply wanted more, one chapter was not going to be enough. Mina's characters are instantly alive and her descriptive powers very impressive, this is a book that I believe I would be lost in, hungry to keep turning the pages, desperate for more depth and wiling to dive into the darkness. What lays ahead? Who knows but I have a feeling, a strong feeling it's going to be very, very good dear readers.Shall we dally then?
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  • Sandy
    April 9, 2017
    This is a literary retelling of the final days & trial of Peter Manuel, a serial killer who was hanged in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison on July 11, 1958. Nicknamed “the Beast of Birkenshaw”, he was convicted of 7 murders & suspected of others. On Sept. 17, 1956 Glasgow businessman William Watt’s wife, daughter & sister-in-law were murdered while he was away on a trip. But police were under tremendous pressure to make an arrest & decided Watt was as good a suspect as any. He spent mo This is a literary retelling of the final days & trial of Peter Manuel, a serial killer who was hanged in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison on July 11, 1958. Nicknamed “the Beast of Birkenshaw”, he was convicted of 7 murders & suspected of others. On Sept. 17, 1956 Glasgow businessman William Watt’s wife, daughter & sister-in-law were murdered while he was away on a trip. But police were under tremendous pressure to make an arrest & decided Watt was as good a suspect as any. He spent more than 2 months in prison until prominent lawyer Lawrence Dowdall secured his release. Watt went on to spend much of the next year carrying out his own investigation in an effort to clear his name. On Jan. 1,1958 another family was murdered & from then on, Manuel’s days were numbered. Much has been written about the case & the author stays true to the facts while adding her own spin on some of the unanswered questions. The story has 2 main threads that are told in alternating chapters. The first takes place over the course of one night in Dec. 1957 as she imagines a meeting between Watt & Manuel. We follow them as they hit every bar in town, both with private agendas. Watt believes Manuel knows where the murder weapon is & he wants it. And Manuel…..well, he just wants money & someone to toy with.The other thread begins 6 months later in 1958 as Peter Manuel goes on trial. One by one we hear from all those called to testify including Manuel’s parents & Watt himself. As both story lines progress, ugly truths are gradually revealed as we follow the 2 MC’s in dual time lines. Mina does a wonderful job of slowly peeling back the layers of these 2 complex characters. Watt initially comes across as a crass, nouveau riche social climber desperate for respect. But it’s her portrait of Manuel that makes your blood run cold. He can turn from charming manipulator to violent sociopath in a heartbeat & will genuinely make your skin crawl. It’s like watching a chess game between 2 well matched opponents & there’s a continuous power shift as they try to outmanoeuvre each other. It’s stylishly written & rich in period detail. Glasgow in the 1950’s is another character in itself. Parts of the blackened city would later be levelled but at the time it was a dark & gritty place with well known gangsters controlling their turf. It also illustrates the popular beliefs & societal prejudices at a time when the class system was still in effect. This is not a thriller in the traditional sense as most of the violence is described in retrospect. There is much more dialogue than action. It’s a thought provoking & psychological study of 2 flawed men that keeps you guessing & I particularly enjoyed the author’s twist on how Watt’s family ended up dead. Who knows….maybe it’s true.
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  • Latkins
    January 25, 2017
    This is a short, sharp, snappy and scary novel which can be read very quickly. It's based on the true case of Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel, who murdered many different people over two years in the 1950s. It particularly focuses on a night out Manuel had with William Watt, whose family (wife, daughter and sister-in-law) Manuel had murdered. Watt is trying to get to the truth of what happened to his family - he was initially a suspect in the murders - and he thinks Manuel can help him. It a This is a short, sharp, snappy and scary novel which can be read very quickly. It's based on the true case of Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel, who murdered many different people over two years in the 1950s. It particularly focuses on a night out Manuel had with William Watt, whose family (wife, daughter and sister-in-law) Manuel had murdered. Watt is trying to get to the truth of what happened to his family - he was initially a suspect in the murders - and he thinks Manuel can help him. It also recounts the trial Manuel eventually had in 1958, when he was finally found guilty of several murders and executed (this isn't a spoiler, it's well known and referred to in the title).Denise Mina really gets under the skin of the all the characters, including Manuel himself, who is a chilling and yet pathetic character. With his inability to empathise with others, and his extreme ego and narcissism, he truly was a psychopath. I found this particularly interesting as I had recently watched the ITV drama on the same subject, In Plain Sight. I think the novel and TV series complement each other well, and would urge anyone who liked the TV series to read this.
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  • Craig Sisterson
    January 3, 2017
    Denise Mina is a heck of a good crime writer, and in her latest offering she turns her pen towards a retelling of a real-life crime in 1950s Glasgow. More particularly, towards the bizarre events that saw serial killer Peter Manuel meeting with William Watt, the husband and father of two of his victims - a man who had himself been accused of the crime - and in effect going on a drinking binge together for an entire night in Glasgow. A dangerous yet strangely exhilarating situation for both of th Denise Mina is a heck of a good crime writer, and in her latest offering she turns her pen towards a retelling of a real-life crime in 1950s Glasgow. More particularly, towards the bizarre events that saw serial killer Peter Manuel meeting with William Watt, the husband and father of two of his victims - a man who had himself been accused of the crime - and in effect going on a drinking binge together for an entire night in Glasgow. A dangerous yet strangely exhilarating situation for both of them, as they tried to outfox each other while also enjoying the night out on the town.Truth is stranger than fiction, as they say.This is quite a different style of book for fans of Mina's earlier Garnethill, Paddy Meehan, and Alex Morrow series. It's a literary true crime tale, where Mina has combed historic documents to bring the crime, and that time, to vivid life on the page. At the Granite Noir festival in Aberdeen last weekend, where Mina was onstage for sessions dealing with crime fiction vs true crime, and the nature of evil, she called her book a 'reimagining' of the missing hours of Manuel and Watts' late-night escapades, as well as a different take on the official Peter Manuel 'serial killer' story that was told by the press.Elegantly written, THE LONG DROP is a cracking page-turner, where even if you know something of the real-life tale, and its results, you're drawn in, and pulled along. A stay-up-all-night-to-finish-it kind of book. I certainly did. Mina is a master storyteller, regardless of whether her characters are fictional or based on real persons. Because her writing is so good, she's able to digress and thread in historical details and facts without losing the flow. THE LONG DROP isn't just a story of what might have happened on that strange night between Watt and Manuel, but a superb insight into Glasgow of the time, from its policing and justice systems, to family life, to the bars and 'hard men' of the city.Read full review on Crime Watch, here: http://kiwicrime.blogspot.co.uk/2017/...
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  • Martha Brindley
    February 12, 2017
    I previously reviewed the first chapter of this book but since then, I won a copy in a giveaway. Having now read the whole book, it complements the ITV drama, In Plain Sight. The book is based on the Scottish murderer Peter Manuel and is very well written. Denise draws the reader in to the mind of Manuel and if you enjoyed the drama, you will enjoy this book also. Thorough research and a great knowledge of Glasgow history.
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  • Cleo Bannister
    March 5, 2017
    This is the story of Peter Manuel, not a recreation of his crimes scrawled baldly across the page but a nuanced look at the man, both behind the vile acts he perpetrated and the one that he was in his own mind. In Peter’s head there was still the possibility to be another Peter, the one who was a writer and was famous for something other than burglarising, vandalising and raping. When he met the long drop (the method used for hanging in Scotland) he wasn’t the other Peter though, he was the man This is the story of Peter Manuel, not a recreation of his crimes scrawled baldly across the page but a nuanced look at the man, both behind the vile acts he perpetrated and the one that he was in his own mind. In Peter’s head there was still the possibility to be another Peter, the one who was a writer and was famous for something other than burglarising, vandalising and raping. When he met the long drop (the method used for hanging in Scotland) he wasn’t the other Peter though, he was the man who wasn’t as clever as he thought he was.Denise Mina has created a night Peter spent with the father of one of his victims. A father, husband and brother-in-law to three women who didn’t live to say what their last night was like but William Watt wants to know, particularly as he was arrested for the crimes himself, and so his lawyer Laurence Dowdall, having secured Manuel’s agreement, accompanies the men on a meeting in a restaurant one wintry Glaswegian night in 1957. Laurence Dowdall leaves the two men to it and they spend the entire night drinking, visiting clubs before finally winding up drinking a cup of tea in a car outside Manuel’s house, his mother a mere shadow behind the curtains.The nuanced and assured storytelling is gripping with details oozing out of each sentence, not just about the crimes but about the characters, the essence of the lives they lived and the Glasgow of that age before the slums were cleared and Glasgow was cleaned up. It tells the story of a whole community which had violence running through it. The men jostling for position, just as Manuel and William Watt did in the pub, desperate to hold prime position, not to be outdone by lesser men. Being hard was what it was all about and the men who both protected and beat their women with fierce pride.Of course we do learn about Manuel’s crimes too in a similar fashion, this isn’t a linear story telling, it is all the more captivating because we wait for the details; the half-eaten sandwich left abandoned at the murder scene, the empty bottle of whisky left on the sideboard for the police to find after the shock of the broken bodies left in the bedroom have been discovered. There is no doubt that Peter Manuel was not a nice man but we also see him through his parent’s eyes. One particular scene about their visit to the prison is one that I suspect is seared into my memory for ever, the emotions roll off the page in an understated manner which pulled at my heart-strings all the more for those that remained unsaid. I have a particular respect for writers who leave the reader the space to fill in the gaps, to allow them to put themselves in the shoes of a mother of a murderer without justifying the emotions she felt and what she might feel in a week hence.This without a doubt is one of the best books I’ve read based on a true crime with this relatively short book being jam-packed with details which are wide-ranging. It did help that I had recently watched the television drama In Plain Sight, because previously I hadn’t heard of this man, although I’m now aware that for years afterwards his name was used as a synonym for the bogeyman for Glaswegian children.
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  • Jill's Book Cafe
    March 3, 2017
    4.5*sTo anyone who has recently seen the ITV drama series “In Plain Sight” you will already be au fait with the story of Peter Manuel. If you didn’t, Peter Manual (nicknamed The Beast of Birkenshaw by the press) was convicted of 8 murders between 1956 and 1958 and subsequently took “The Long Drop” in Barlinnie Prison on 11th July 1958.Peter Manuel, was not a pleasant man and if you want a detailed account of his activities, thankfully this book is not it. What this book covers instead is a fict 4.5*sTo anyone who has recently seen the ITV drama series “In Plain Sight” you will already be au fait with the story of Peter Manuel. If you didn’t, Peter Manual (nicknamed The Beast of Birkenshaw by the press) was convicted of 8 murders between 1956 and 1958 and subsequently took “The Long Drop” in Barlinnie Prison on 11th July 1958.Peter Manuel, was not a pleasant man and if you want a detailed account of his activities, thankfully this book is not it. What this book covers instead is a fictional meeting between Manuel and William Watt alternating with Manuel’s subsequent trial for murder. Watt had originally been arrested for the murder of his wife, daughter, and sister-in-law, all shot in the head while he was away on a fishing trip. Manuel claimed to have information about the murders and the gun, and engineered a meeting with Laurence Dowdall, Watt’s legal advisor. This meeting has been re-imagined as having taken place in Glasgow one night between Manuel and Watt himself. While the meeting may be fictional the facts surrounding the case and the characters that appear are all real.I have to confess that I do not normally read true crime, or fictionalised versions of it, but I love Denise Mina’s crime fiction books and their Glasgow settings. As I have more than a passing fondness for Glasgow (having lived there albeit briefly in the 80’s), I was keen to read this. I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed. I was hooked from the beginning and kept enthralled until the end. What the author has done with this story is not present a linear re-telling of the case and his crimes, (though of course it is impossible not to make reference to them) but rather present the versions of Peter Manuel behind the sensationalist headlines. That is the Peter Manuel as seen by his “friends”, his family, the police and even the Peter Manuel that he himself sees himself as. It is very cleverly done and presents a picture of a damaged, but calculating, deluded and dangerous man, though it is not one that elicits sympathy. This is no bleeding heart liberal defence of a serial killer, but a rather an imagined insight into the man behind the crimes. A man who was a petty thief at the age of 10, convicted of a series of sexual assaults at 16 and by 25 had already spent 9 years in prison. He was a liar and a fantasist, who believed himself invincible – so much so, that he sacked his defence team and represented himself in court.While I was fascinated by the unfolding story, I was also just as engaged with the setting. The book is as much about Glasgow as it is Manuel. At the end of the 50’s it is still a city with a reputation, that in certain areas still carried the taint of the Razor gangs of the 20’s and 30’s. It had an underbelly fuelled by alcohol, con men, criminals and violence, violence which was normally territorial and sectarian. This was still a Glasgow of hard men, or would be hard men reminiscent of “No Mean City”. It was this world that Peter Manuel was part of, or thought he was, while he saw himself as a hard man, he didn’t garner the authority or respect that might have been given to others. It’s book that looks at society, at the justice system and the divisions. It drops in little nuggets that sum up the religious divides and segregation. When Manuel is accusing police of falsifying his testimonies he had signed one with his confirmation name. As his mother points out in court “I’m not sure they’d know your confirmation name”. Which is true, as there were no Catholics in the Lanarkshire police force they’d be unfamiliar with the convention.This is a book that exposes Peter Manuel and the darker side of Glasgow, without being voyeuristic or sensationalist and I found it totally gripping.
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  • Karen
    July 23, 2016
    It is December 2, 1957 in Glasgow. Three men meet in a restaurant. One of the men is Peter Manuel who got in touch with Laurence Dowdall the premiere criminal attorney to facilitate a meeting with William Watts. Peter Manuel claims to have information about the Burnside murders. Three members of Watt's family have been killed and his seventeen year old daughter was attacked. Watt's seems to believe that Manuel might be the only one that can clear him from being the prime suspect. Laurence Dowdal It is December 2, 1957 in Glasgow. Three men meet in a restaurant. One of the men is Peter Manuel who got in touch with Laurence Dowdall the premiere criminal attorney to facilitate a meeting with William Watts. Peter Manuel claims to have information about the Burnside murders. Three members of Watt's family have been killed and his seventeen year old daughter was attacked. Watt's seems to believe that Manuel might be the only one that can clear him from being the prime suspect. Laurence Dowdall is reluctant to meet Peter Manuel who just got out of prison three days ago. Watts and Manuel stage an altercation between each other to get rid of Laurence Dowdall. Rich, atmospheric this is just an excerpt from Chapter one. Thank you to Denise Mina and the publisher Harvill Secker.
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  • Roman Clodia
    March 31, 2017
    This is a chilling read set against a dark vision of 1950s Glasgow, a place imbued with an ultra-hard macho culture where it's legal for a man to rape his wife and where softer emotions in men need to be kept hidden; where women believe that only 'bad' girls get raped, and parents collude to paper over the psychological fissures in their son.Mina's book is part-fact, part-fiction as she recounts the trial of Peter Manuel for serial murder and rape, while interspersing these scenes with a fiction This is a chilling read set against a dark vision of 1950s Glasgow, a place imbued with an ultra-hard macho culture where it's legal for a man to rape his wife and where softer emotions in men need to be kept hidden; where women believe that only 'bad' girls get raped, and parents collude to paper over the psychological fissures in their son.Mina's book is part-fact, part-fiction as she recounts the trial of Peter Manuel for serial murder and rape, while interspersing these scenes with a fictional night spent drinking together by Manuel and William Watt, the father and husband of some of Manuel's victims.The portrait of Manuel is grotesque: a liar, a sadist, a man with a fractured sense of his own identity, so keen to show off his own cleverness that he takes on his own legal defence - and even though we know how the story will end, Mina keeps the tension pulling us forward.I was less gripped by the long-drawn bar-crawl and relationship between Manuel and Watt: it starts in an intriguing manner but feels like it loses its way somewhat then comes back for an almost obligatory twist in the tale. Despite some misgivings, Mina succeeds in conjuring up a harsh and brutal world in fine detail - 3.5 stars.Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley
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  • Kitty Kat
    February 28, 2017
    Denise Mina is the queen of atmospheric, all-consuming descriptions that draw the reader into a world of gritty crime in a Glasgow long gone. I felt as if I was back in the 1950s Glasgow my grandparents knew and I wanted more of it. I wanted to wallow in this old world of shady crooks, bent laywers and I wanted to find out more about the Burnside murders. This first chapter promises so much and had me hooked from the start. Now I've read it all i am so impressed by the skill Ms Mina shows in eve Denise Mina is the queen of atmospheric, all-consuming descriptions that draw the reader into a world of gritty crime in a Glasgow long gone. I felt as if I was back in the 1950s Glasgow my grandparents knew and I wanted more of it. I wanted to wallow in this old world of shady crooks, bent laywers and I wanted to find out more about the Burnside murders. This first chapter promises so much and had me hooked from the start. Now I've read it all i am so impressed by the skill Ms Mina shows in every page. The writing is tight and real and I felt as if I was there, in the courtroom, on the streets, among the people. A masterpiece.
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  • Colette Lamberth
    April 14, 2016
    I read and reviewed the first chapter of this book in April 2016 and was keen to read more. I had some knowledge of the Peter Manuel case but recently watched an ITV drama about him (In Plain Sight) so by the time I was reading the full book I was a bit better informed.This would be a chilling read in any case but given that it's based on a true story it adds another dimension to it. The switch from the night Manuel spent with Watt back and forth to the trial worked really well at building the t I read and reviewed the first chapter of this book in April 2016 and was keen to read more. I had some knowledge of the Peter Manuel case but recently watched an ITV drama about him (In Plain Sight) so by the time I was reading the full book I was a bit better informed.This would be a chilling read in any case but given that it's based on a true story it adds another dimension to it. The switch from the night Manuel spent with Watt back and forth to the trial worked really well at building the tension and even knowing how it must end I was truly gripped by it. Any reader with an interest in the Manuel case should read this, highly recommended.I received a free copy of The Long Drop via NetGalley and my thanks to Random House UK Vintage Publishing for that.
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  • Margaret Madden
    July 30, 2016
    Review based on sample chapter only, but bloody hell! Cannot wait to read the rest. Descriptive prose that is like honey. Smooth, subtle and sublime. Definitely one for me...1950s London and William Watt has been accused of murdering his family. He needs to gather information in the hope of clearing his name. Along with suave lawyer, Laurence Dowdall, he meets up with renowned gangster Peter Manuel in a small restaurant. The atmosphere drips off the page and it is like watching an old movie set Review based on sample chapter only, but bloody hell! Cannot wait to read the rest. Descriptive prose that is like honey. Smooth, subtle and sublime. Definitely one for me...1950s London and William Watt has been accused of murdering his family. He needs to gather information in the hope of clearing his name. Along with suave lawyer, Laurence Dowdall, he meets up with renowned gangster Peter Manuel in a small restaurant. The atmosphere drips off the page and it is like watching an old movie set in a speakeasy. With the presumption that the chapters continue to be as engrossing as this sample, I am going to love this!
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  • Sangeeta
    July 7, 2016
    ***NetGalley ARC, Chapter 1 only***Well-written and atmospheric, of course, but not up my street in the least. I've read a couple of Alex Morrow novels, and while I'm not exactly a Mina fan, this first chapter did nothing for me. Felt very stagey, and self-conscious somehow.
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  • Sid Nuncius
    March 31, 2017
    Denise Mina is an excellent writer of crime fiction. This is a move into Real Crime in a semi-fictionalised form, and she does this very well, too.The Long Drop is an account of the crimes of Peter Manuel who, in 1957, was a serial rapist and murderer in Scotland. It is firmly rooted in known fact: the excellent trial scenes are based on court records, of course, and are intercut with some of the events, in necessarily fictionalised form, which led to Manuel being caught and convicted. Mina, as Denise Mina is an excellent writer of crime fiction. This is a move into Real Crime in a semi-fictionalised form, and she does this very well, too.The Long Drop is an account of the crimes of Peter Manuel who, in 1957, was a serial rapist and murderer in Scotland. It is firmly rooted in known fact: the excellent trial scenes are based on court records, of course, and are intercut with some of the events, in necessarily fictionalised form, which led to Manuel being caught and convicted. Mina, as always, creates vivid, believable characters whose psychologies and thought processes are credible and often very insightful. She is a little free with speculation in places – in stating that William Watt paid to have his wife murdered, which was never established, for example – but it is generally an accurate and very gripping account. Mina's prose style is spare and matter-of-fact, which makes the horror of some of the crimes even more stark and real. There is a slight feel of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood about some of the book – which is high praise. The atmosphere of 1950s Glasgow is very well evoked, and I found the whole thing an involving, if rather repellent, read.For me, this didn't quite have the gripping brilliance of some of Mina's previous fiction, but it is still a very good book which I can recommend.(I received an ARC via Netgalley.)
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  • Annie
    April 26, 2017
    How do you write a biography for a liar? Denise Mina found one way with her novel, The Long Drop. The events in this book are based on the investigation and trial of Peter Manuel. Mina took what is known about Manuel and his crimes, the investigation, court records, and other documents and stitched together a tale of what might have happened in a series of murders in Glasgow between 1956 and 1958. It makes for chilling reading...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free cop How do you write a biography for a liar? Denise Mina found one way with her novel, The Long Drop. The events in this book are based on the investigation and trial of Peter Manuel. Mina took what is known about Manuel and his crimes, the investigation, court records, and other documents and stitched together a tale of what might have happened in a series of murders in Glasgow between 1956 and 1958. It makes for chilling reading...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.
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  • Dan Radovich
    March 3, 2017
    I have been a fan of Mina's for some time, enjoying most everything she has written. She has a gift for taking you just to the edge of creepiness, then pulling you back to 'safety'. Oh how pleased I was as I read THE LONG DROP and was not pulled back. She holds nothing back here, bringing a true story from 1950's Glasgow to vivid life. Does knowing this is a true story make the murders more harsh? Not really. It is Mina's amazing ability with prose and dialogue that makes this one of her best an I have been a fan of Mina's for some time, enjoying most everything she has written. She has a gift for taking you just to the edge of creepiness, then pulling you back to 'safety'. Oh how pleased I was as I read THE LONG DROP and was not pulled back. She holds nothing back here, bringing a true story from 1950's Glasgow to vivid life. Does knowing this is a true story make the murders more harsh? Not really. It is Mina's amazing ability with prose and dialogue that makes this one of her best and creepiest. Lights on, doors locked when you read this one. (Mina and Val McDermid are in my opinion writing the best thrillers set in Scotland).
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  • Stargazer
    April 6, 2017
    Mina has an uncanny ability to bring every character to life, i was totally in there and captivated all the way through. i even shocked myself chuckling once or twice forgetting the horror surrounding this story based on real life events. Great piece of writing.
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  • Karen
    March 30, 2016
    This short review is based on reading the first chapter only and not the entire book. I don’t often read non-fiction and I haven’t yet read anything by this author but this extract sounded so intriguing I downloaded the first chapter. The case concerned is a high profile murder in Glasgow in the 1950s. I hadn’t heard of this but after Googling, discovered there is a lot of information available.The extract provided gives a very descriptive account of a meeting between William Watt, his lawyer La This short review is based on reading the first chapter only and not the entire book. I don’t often read non-fiction and I haven’t yet read anything by this author but this extract sounded so intriguing I downloaded the first chapter. The case concerned is a high profile murder in Glasgow in the 1950s. I hadn’t heard of this but after Googling, discovered there is a lot of information available.The extract provided gives a very descriptive account of a meeting between William Watt, his lawyer Laurence Dowdall and Peter Manuel. Manuel apparently has information relating to the murder of Watt’s family. Dowdall, a very successful lawyer and knowing Manuel’s reputation is reluctant to meet and gives warnings to Watts. Watts however dismisses these as ‘babying’ and is keen to meet with Manuel. Within a few moments of their first acquaintance, Watts and Manual seem to share an affinity and a meeting of minds. They stage an altercation with the intention of getting Dowdall away before they get down to business – “Their night together has begun”. And that’s where the first chapter ends! The writing is very descriptive and atmospheric; every detail of facial expressions and appearance is noted which adds to the chilling setting.This sounds a fascinating and unsettling read and I would be very interested in reading the full story when available. An extract of the first chapter was received for an early review via Netgalley.
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  • Yana
    March 30, 2016
    I received only an extract from this novel; the first chapter to be exact. BUT did it give me goosebumps all over my body, oh baby it DID! And this means that it is going to be a hell of a book, that I have to buy or it will be the end of me! Denise Mina, girl, you got me from the first sentence. I am hooked, I have no idea how I will wait for The Long Drop to be published! The writing is extremely vivid and the atmosphere that is created is out of this world... well, in this world ... it is a m I received only an extract from this novel; the first chapter to be exact. BUT did it give me goosebumps all over my body, oh baby it DID! And this means that it is going to be a hell of a book, that I have to buy or it will be the end of me! Denise Mina, girl, you got me from the first sentence. I am hooked, I have no idea how I will wait for The Long Drop to be published! The writing is extremely vivid and the atmosphere that is created is out of this world... well, in this world ... it is a masterpiece. I know these are quite strong words I am using there, but I loved it so much! So much I read it out loud a couple of times just to feel the words rumbling down my tongue. The world play is so good, it is on the verge of sin. Sensual and yummy! I hope the plot revolves just as catchy or it will be a waste of talent! Denise Mina is a creature that knows her words and knows how to use them to mesmerise!!!! Absolutely brilliant!!!I hate that I only got a sneak peak! As one other reader said it:"It’s almost like opening the door just a smidgen and letting you peer round the corner at the unfolding story, only to be yanked back and have the door shut in your face rather abruptly."HORRIBLY UNFAIR!https://thequidnuncblog.wordpress.com...But, alas, I just have to wait a bit longer!
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  • Pia
    April 3, 2016
    I received an ARC (excerpt of first chapter) of this book in exchange for an honest review.Denise Mina is one my favorite mystery writers, and given the chance to read (even if it was an excerpt of a chapter) of her new book, I was grateful for the opportunity.Two men, William Watt and lawyer Laurence Dowdall head into a restaurant to talk with Peter Manuel, a criminal that says he has information about the Burnside Affair.We've yet to know that Watt's family has been killed and that he is the p I received an ARC (excerpt of first chapter) of this book in exchange for an honest review.Denise Mina is one my favorite mystery writers, and given the chance to read (even if it was an excerpt of a chapter) of her new book, I was grateful for the opportunity.Two men, William Watt and lawyer Laurence Dowdall head into a restaurant to talk with Peter Manuel, a criminal that says he has information about the Burnside Affair.We've yet to know that Watt's family has been killed and that he is the prime suspect in the murders of of three members of his family, and also that his 17 year old daughter has been attacked.Mina is a master with words and plot, wrapping the reader around them in each chapter. And this book won't be an exception. If the beginning is so good, this will be another exciting book by a great mystery writer
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  • Sharon Jarvis
    May 19, 2016
    This review is only on the first chapter of The Long Drop….An incredibly detailed and vivid depiction of characters with a mixture of short sharp sentences and then moving to more long flowing sentences to paint a picture with words. There is slow build up but then tensions are created and as a reader I am captivated. Wow…… loved what I read. Disappointed that I couldn’t keep reading now.Looking forward to being able to read the complete novel.Thanks to Netgalley and publisher Random House UK, V This review is only on the first chapter of The Long Drop….An incredibly detailed and vivid depiction of characters with a mixture of short sharp sentences and then moving to more long flowing sentences to paint a picture with words. There is slow build up but then tensions are created and as a reader I am captivated. Wow…… loved what I read. Disappointed that I couldn’t keep reading now.Looking forward to being able to read the complete novel.Thanks to Netgalley and publisher Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for the opportunity to read the first chapter of The Long Drop.
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  • Mary Picken
    January 14, 2017
    Shocking but perfect. What an astounding piece of work. I grew up in Glasgow hearing stories of the serial killer and rapist Peter Manuel and lived for a time in Burnside where one set of his family murders took place. His name is legend amongst Glaswegians not just for the brutality of his crimes, but for the way he thought he could box clever and lie without compunction in order to mislead those who sought to capture him. There was no-one in Glasgow who had a higher opinion of Peter Manuel tha Shocking but perfect. What an astounding piece of work. I grew up in Glasgow hearing stories of the serial killer and rapist Peter Manuel and lived for a time in Burnside where one set of his family murders took place. His name is legend amongst Glaswegians not just for the brutality of his crimes, but for the way he thought he could box clever and lie without compunction in order to mislead those who sought to capture him. There was no-one in Glasgow who had a higher opinion of Peter Manuel than Manuel himself.William Watt was a successful businessman, the father of the first family killed in their beds. He had been imprisoned for their murders, despite having the cast iron alibi of being eighty miles away at the time. Released from prison, he let it be known that he would pay good money to uncover who was responsible for his family's massacre, though it wasn't quite that simple.Denise Mina has taken the night that Watt and Manuel spent together - surprisingly introduced by the the well known crime solicitor, Lawrence Dowdall, and has put together an altogether convincing and compelling narrative on the events of that evening.But this book is more than the tale of a deadly sociopath, a man without empathy; a man who when on trial for his life, sacked his barrister and defended himself in court, addressing the jury for six hours.What makes it stand out is the way that Mina accurately and chillingly depicts the criminal justice system in the 50's. Dispassionately, but with a clear exposition, she lays out the social mores of the time.It is sometimes hard to believe that within my lifetime the police and the Glasgow criminal underworld had more than a common understanding, when the Glasgow Corporation may have borne more than a passing resemblance to Tammany Hall and where influence, whichever side of the law it fell on, was everything and respectability could be a monetary concept.It was, as Mina points out, 1958, a time when a husband has the legal right to rape and beat his wife and it will be considered a private matter.The book alternates between the trial of Manuel and the evening with Watt and it provides a fascinating insight into the Glasgow of the 1950's. This was the High Court, where VIP seats were reserved away from the Hoi polloi for those wishing to stress their importance by visiting the trial.Cigarettes, matches and ashtrays are provided for witnesses. The trial was full of observers every day, sixty seats, all filled by women who queued overnight for three weeks to get a seat. It is not clear why they come; Manuel is considered handsome. Is it that, or the power that he seems to wield? This is the trial of a man who has been accused of murder, robbery, theft and who stops in the midst of his carnage to make himself a sandwich. Only adults are allowed into the trial, such is the heinous nature of the crimes that a sixteen year old boy is turned away after queuing because the evidence will be too upsetting.Mina' writing is crystal sharp; her detail is exquisite - down to the meal that Manuel paid extra for during his trial - and the novel as a whole exudes authenticity. It is a brilliant exposition of what happened that night and how Manuel was was finally brought to justice.Along the way, the book is populated with characters, some ordinary, some legendary. Manuel's father, Samuel who is prepared to cover again and again for his son and and his devoutly Catholic mother, Brigit who will finally understand that there is no redemption for her son.I never knew the origin of the sectarian song that Mina pins to the gangster Billy Fullerton, and which, to our eternal shame, is still sung in Glasgow.There is so much to this book that it shines out as an outstanding read of 2017. I can't tell you how much this book excited me and how good the writing is.Above all, it is an acutely observed portrait of Glasgow and its people, borne from thought, excellent writing and first rate research. It is remarkable and should undoubtedly be an award winner.
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  • Bill McFadyen
    May 4, 2017
    Denise Mona has based this story on the true events surrounding the Glasgow criminal and maybe Scotland's first serial killer Peter Manuel. The crimes occurred in Glasgow of the late 1950s , a different city to the tourist destination of today. The streets and the people have changed in the last sixty years - or so we hope.Denise Mina is a first class writer and her understanding of Glasgow and its people make her books well worth reading.
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  • Jo-anne Atkinson
    March 17, 2017
    Described as Scotland's first serial killer, Peter Manuel was rapist and a burglar as well. He was also a fantasist, weaving stories about how he had been a war hero, recruited by the CIA and also by Communist Russia. Convicted in 1958 of a series of brutal murders Manuel was executed by 'the long drop'. In this book Denise Mina recounts the story of Manuel's trial interspersed with a fictionalised meeting between William Watt (whose family Manuel had killed) and Manuel himself over the course o Described as Scotland's first serial killer, Peter Manuel was rapist and a burglar as well. He was also a fantasist, weaving stories about how he had been a war hero, recruited by the CIA and also by Communist Russia. Convicted in 1958 of a series of brutal murders Manuel was executed by 'the long drop'. In this book Denise Mina recounts the story of Manuel's trial interspersed with a fictionalised meeting between William Watt (whose family Manuel had killed) and Manuel himself over the course of night in Glasgow's underworld.Often the genre of crime fiction is seen as a populist genre and not really worthy of literary praise, but some writers seem to transcend the genre they are placed in. Mina is one such writer and this novel should be seen as literary fiction, not populist crime. Mina's writing is both graphic and taut, horrific crimes are described but more importantly an exploration of the psyche of a truly violent man takes place. This book is not pleasant reading but it packs a real punch.
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  • Patricia Moren
    March 7, 2017
    In can't say I was gripped by this story, it left me feeling depressed. Too much detail about the squalor 0f Glasgow and continual imbibing of alcohol that I couldn't find a storyline to follow.
  • Bethsy Aurora
    January 14, 2017
    Shocking but perfect. What an astounding piece of work. I grew up in Glasgow hearing stories of Peter Manuel and lived for a time in Burnside where one set of his family murders took place. His name is legend amongst Glaswegians not just for the brutality of his crimes, but for the way he thought he could box clever and lie without compunction in order to mislead those who sought to capture him. There was no-one in Glasgow who had a higher opinion of Peter Manuel than Manuel himself.William Watt Shocking but perfect. What an astounding piece of work. I grew up in Glasgow hearing stories of Peter Manuel and lived for a time in Burnside where one set of his family murders took place. His name is legend amongst Glaswegians not just for the brutality of his crimes, but for the way he thought he could box clever and lie without compunction in order to mislead those who sought to capture him. There was no-one in Glasgow who had a higher opinion of Peter Manuel than Manuel himself.William Watt was a successful businessman, the father of the first family killed in their beds. He had been imprisoned for their murders, despite having the cast iron alibi of being eighty miles away at the time. Released from prison, he let it be known that he would pay good money to uncover who was responsible for his family's massacre, though it wasn't quite that simple.Denise Mina has taken the night that Watt and Manuel spent together - surprisingly introduced by the the well known crime solicitor, Lawrence Dowdall, and has put together an altogether convincing and compelling narrative on the events of that evening.But this book is more than the tale of a deadly sociopath, a man without empathy; a man who when on trial for his life, sacked his barrister and defended himself in court, addressing the jury for six hours.What makes it stand out is the way that Mina accurately and chillingly depicts the criminal justice system in the 50's. Dispassionately, but with a clear exposition, she lays out the social mores of the time.It is sometimes hard to believe that within my lifetime the police and the Glasgow criminal underworld had more than a common understanding, when the Glasgow Corporation may have borne more than a passing resemblance to Tammany Hall and where influence, whichever side of the law it fell on, was everything and respectability could be a monetary concept.It was, as Mina points out, 1958, a time when a husband has the legal right to rape and beat his wife and it will be considered a private matter.The book alternates between the trial of Manuel and the evening with Watt and it provides a fascinating insight into the Glasgow of the 1950's. This was the High Court, where VIP seats were reserved away from the Hoi polloi for those wishing to stress their importance by visiting the trial.Cigarettes, matches and ashtrays are provided for witnesses. The trial was full of observers every day, sixty seats, all filled by women who queued overnight for three weeks to get a seat. It is not clear why they come; Manuel is considered handsome. Is it that, or the power that he seems to wield? This is the trial of a man who has been accused of murder, robbery, theft and who stops in the midst of his carnage to make himself a sandwich. Only adults are allowed into the trial, such is the heinous nature of the crimes that a sixteen year old boy is turned away after queuing because the evidence will be too upsetting.Mina' writing is crystal sharp; her detail is exquisite - down to the meal that Manuel paid extra for during his trial - and the novel as a whole exudes authenticity. It is a brilliant exposition of what happened that night and how Manuel was was finally brought to justice.Along the way, the book is populated with characters, some ordinary, some legendary. Manuel's father, Samuel who is prepared to cover again and again for his son and and his devoutly Catholic mother, Brigit who will finally understand that there is no redemption for her son.I never knew the origin of the sectarian song that Mina pins to the gangster Billy Fullerton, and which, to our eternal shame, is still sung in Glasgow.There is so much to this book that it shines out as an outstanding read of 2017. I can't tell you how much this book excited me and how good the writing is.Above all, it is an acutely observed portrait of Glasgow and its people, borne from thought, excellent writing and first rate research. It is remarkable and should undoubtedly be an award winner.
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  • Cheryl M-M
    March 30, 2016
    *Updated from sneak preview to review of full book*You have to be at the top of your game to be able to pull in the readers with literally just the first chapter of the book to go on. A sample of goods, a taste of what is yet to come, and leaving the reader with a burning need to know what comes next.It’s almost like opening the door just a smidgen and letting you peer round the corner at the unfolding story, only to be yanked back and have the door shut in your face rather abruptly.The Long Dro *Updated from sneak preview to review of full book*You have to be at the top of your game to be able to pull in the readers with literally just the first chapter of the book to go on. A sample of goods, a taste of what is yet to come, and leaving the reader with a burning need to know what comes next.It’s almost like opening the door just a smidgen and letting you peer round the corner at the unfolding story, only to be yanked back and have the door shut in your face rather abruptly.The Long Drop is based on the true crime story about an American born Scottish serial killer called Peter Manuel and the man accused of three of his crimes. In 1956 William Watt was accused of killing his wife, daughter and his sister-in-law. He would have been tried and executed for the crimes, if the police hadn’t cottoned on to the fact they had a serial killer in their midst.Mina turns a meeting of the two men into a cat and mouse game between killer and accused. A literary thriller with the dark city of Glasgow as a backdrop. A city on the brink of change, just about to take a step into literally a lighter brighter time, well at least optically. The black stones of buildings were cleaned, trees planted, whole neighbourhoods ripped down and rebuilt. A massive health and x-ray initiative was launched to combat and eradicate tuberculosis.It will be interesting to see whether Mina draws parallels between the meeting of Watts and Manuel, and the essence, core and subsequent change in Glasgow.Mina’s writing is expressive, sharp and memorable. Her knowledge of Glasgow and it’s people is filtered into her stories in an almost subconscious layering. Mina writes noir with a twist, the psychological tear-downs between her characters is what sets her stories apart from the rest.*Updated to full review*I think the reader starts out with the same assumption as Mina when she wrote the play Driving Manuel, that Watt was a victim in this scenario. After listening to people who were alive and there at the time Mina took another look at the crimes, the result being the novel The Long Drop. This time she presents a slightly different slant on the story.Perhaps Watt wasn’t the innocent bystander everyone thought he was. Why would a man in his position, a man who had spent time in jail for the murders of his family, why would he even consider spending time with the real killer? Pretending to prove his innocence by getting the guilty party to admit their guilt or conveniently conjure up the murder weapon.Drinking and laughing with the man who shot his wife and then hurt and killed his daughter. Having a jolly good chat like old chums. Is it just desperation or does Watt have something to hide?Mina gives a really good insight into the possible conversation between Watt and Manuel. No matter whomever you think may be guilty or whatever the possible scenario, one thing is absolutely clear, Peter Manuel was a sadistic killer. A killer with no remorse, who liked to stalk and torture his victims, and a man who killed viciously and enjoyed the violence.Mina explores certain personality traits of Manuel and describes them rather well. He had a need, almost a compulsion to show-off, to brag and hog the limelight without being caught. His braggart nature and overconfidence is what led to his demise.It’s an interesting read, which has the distinctive mark of Denise Mina.*Thank you to the publisher for the ARC of The Long Drop.*
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  • Waridi
    February 26, 2017
    The Long Drop is a quick, short read based on true events of Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel. The story mainly focuses on the night out between Manuel and William Watt whose family had been murdered in his own home. William Watt was the main suspect in that case but he takes it upon himself to find out what truly happened that night to his wife, daughter and his sister-in-law. He is a wealthy man and decides to use that to his advantage to solve the case and clear his name. His lawyer arrang The Long Drop is a quick, short read based on true events of Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel. The story mainly focuses on the night out between Manuel and William Watt whose family had been murdered in his own home. William Watt was the main suspect in that case but he takes it upon himself to find out what truly happened that night to his wife, daughter and his sister-in-law. He is a wealthy man and decides to use that to his advantage to solve the case and clear his name. His lawyer arranges a meeting between him and Manuel after Manuel claims to have information about the murders.The story goes back and forth between the night out and the trial. The brilliance is in Mina’s storytelling with the clear depiction of Glasgow in the 1950’s and the criminal justice system then. The research that went into this work is amazing and everyone will appreciate it. I really enjoyed this read and would recommend it to anyone who loves historical mysteries.Read more here https://waridibookblog.com/2017/03/02...
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