Confidence by Denise Mina

Today I am sharing my thoughts on Confidence, the brand new thriller from Denise Mina. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Review Copy
Release Date: 07 July 2022
Publisher: Vintage/Harvill Secker

About the Book

Deception. Theft. Murder. All you need is confidence.

When amateur film-maker Lisa Lee vanishes from a Scottish seaside town, journalists Anna and Fin find themselves at the centre of an internet frenzy to find her.

But she may not be the hapless victim everyone thinks she is. The last film she made showed her breaking into an abandoned French chateau and stumbling across a priceless Roman silver casket. The day after Lisa vanishes the casket is listed for auction in Paris, reserve price fifty million euros, with a catalogue entry that challenges the beliefs of a major world religion.

On a thrilling chase across Europe to discover what happened to Lisa, Anna and Fin are caught up in a world of international art smuggling, billionaire con artists and religious zealotry.

But someone doesn’t want them to find the missing girl… and will do anything to stop them.

My Thoughts

I’ve only read a few book by Denise Mina and I wasn’t sure what quite to expect when I started this book, especially as this is the second book in the series. The story follows Podcasters, Anna and Fin, as they begin a hunt for missing documentary maker, Lisa Lee. Lisa is a girl with a very peculiar style of production, quite a matter of fact manner, direct and lacking the stylish flow that many of her peers employ. Focusing her attention on filming abandoned houses, she disappears soon after making a rather surprising discovery at an abandoned chateau, uncovering an relic of legend that has a very dark past. What the connection is between that last, fateful, broadcast and the artifact that has now appeared at an exclusive auction in Paris remains to be seen, and is a puzzle that Anna and Fin are all to keen to investigate.

I actually really liked Anna and Fin, being drawn to their characters very quickly. In spite of having missed their back story with not having read Conviction, Denise Mina provides enough information to establish all of the relationships, and is very adept in detailing characteristics through speech and actions so I felt like I knew them both quite quickly. With the story told largely from Anna’s point of view, it was certainly easy to fall in step with her and whilst she is a complex character and her relationships are challenging, I liked her a lot which made it easier to settle into the story.

Lisa Lee is not necessarily the most sympathetic or easy of characters to be concerned for. There is something aloof about her which kept me slightly separate from her plight, but there was no denying the mystery that surrounded her and the artifact and chateau that she uncovers. Denise Mina slowly drip feeds the history of the box, the Voyniche Casket, into the story, the legend of its existence and of its supposed contents and the pains taken to keep them sacred and secure, and it really adds to the mystery and the aura surrounding the whole case. There are religious links – always a source of trouble in my opinion – not quite of Holy Grail or Ark of the Covenant status, but close enough. It’s something that people are willing to pay large sums of money for. Even to kill for, which adds another layer of tension and conflict into the investigation into Lisa’s disappearance.

The story is packed with suspect characters and an underlying sense of threat. Bram Van Wyk was a fine example of someone I felt you always needed to watch. Although his motives seemed clear, it was never quite that straightforward, and the complications of his own personal life, from his ex-wife to his son, escalated the mystery surrounding him. Add into the mix the conflict within Anna’s personal life and the story is one that intrigued and engaged me from start to finish.

Whilst set in the world of podcast investigation, this isn’t your traditional podcast framed novel. It is slightly episodic in nature, but the journalistic element takes second place to our voyeuristic turn following Anna and Fin as they try to get to the truth. Whether they will ever get to the root cause of what happened to Lisa Lee, you will have to see for yourself. Taking readers from Scotland, to Greece and to Paris, it is a slow creeping, atmospheric kind of mystery, told mainly in a first person narrative which really fit the story. It’s certainly made me curious to read book one in the series. Recommended.

About the Author

Denise Mina is the author of the Garnethill trilogy, the Paddy Meehan series and the Alex Morrow series. She has won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award twice and was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2014. The Long Drop won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017 as well as the Gordon Burn Prize and was named by The Times as one of the top ten crime novels of the decade. Conviction was the co-winner of the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2019 and was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club. Denise has also written plays and graphic novels, and presented television and radio programmes. She lives and works in Glasgow.