The Long Drop by Denise Mina

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“He knows too much to be an honest man but says he wants to help.”

— Denise Mina, The Long Drop

    Denise Mina delivers a true crime story infused with fiction as she tells the story behind Scotland’s very first serial killer. Deemed to be the trial of the century in 1950’s Glasglow, The Long Drop recounts the fight for innocence for the accused father, William Watt, and the denial of guilt by the known liar and murderer, Peter Manuel. While the outcome of this story is well-known, Denise Mina offers readers the opportunity to read about a trial—thanks to her access to transcriptions—interspersed with her own reimagining of the mysterious night that both William Watt and Peter Manuel spent together trying to bargain for freedom in their own particular ways. While William Watt only wishes to find the gun that was used to kill three members of his family, Peter Manuel attempts to play with an innocent man’s emotions and thoughts and secure his way to a win-win situation. In The Long Drop, the author proposes an exploration of the capital punishment, as well as the darkness within everyone, innocent or guilty.

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    Capital punishment still remains relevant in some regions around the world, but The Long Drop sure does bring into light the controversy that surrounds the measure. The raw depiction of the punishment and the whole procedure that leads up to the event in the 1950s underlines the very joke that the whole system used to be. From unreliable witnesses to criminals representing themselves (still modern issues), this story tickles your fancy for what you’d think a trial shouldn’t be like. While half the book focuses on the later trial that leads to the end of Scotland’s first serial killer, Peter Manuel, the other half embraces Denise Mina’s version of the unknown twelve hours that a killer and the accused victim spend together before the grand trial that will change the life of many individuals. These moments that are cleverly and cunningly interwoven into the plot gives us a glimpse into the mind of a killer and his compulsive ability to lie.

    Unfortunately, the writing wasn’t my cup of tea. More often than not, it felt like I was watching a very dull episode on the Discovery channel. Everything was told explicitly and in a straight-forward fashion. Short sentences were also regularly used, making it feel like we were repeatedly jabbed, but without any real reactions being solicited. There was something really raw yet lackluster in the way that the story was conveyed, but it definitely didn’t help that you knew the outcome to this story since it was based on true events. Readers who are truly invested in the trial that took place in Scotland and who wishes to see Denise Mina’s reimagining of the famous hours spent between Peter Manuel and William Watt will surely get a good kick out of this book, but fans of thrillers will have to lower their expectations in order to indulge this genuinely fascinating trial.

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    It’s riveting what occurs between William Watt and Peter Manuel and forces you to wonder how far an innocent individual would go to clear his name of the suspicions that the society has on him. Denise Mina is definitely a fantastic writer who sticks to the facts as she sews a remarkable story from scratch. There are some amazing moments throughout the book that highlights her ability to stun and mesmerize you with her writing style. Regrettably, it fell flat and monotone to my eyes a little too often and failed to keep my intrigue high. Blame is however hard to put on the author as she couldn’t have swayed to far away from the truth and could only try and depict a criminal in the most authentic way possible. The version of the truth that Denise Mina offers us remains interesting enough to please fans of true crime and is definitely worth checking out if the case tickles your curiosity.


THANK YOU TO HARPER COLLINS CANADA FOR SENDING ME A COPY FOR REVIEW!

Are you interested in The Long Drop?
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

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28 thoughts on “The Long Drop by Denise Mina

  1. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    True crime is my ❤ And anything else remotely centered around killers, human psych, court cases, etc. Both I am also super picky in this area as far as what I can actually commit to reading. Which is why I can be caught favoring documentaries 😉 I appreciate what this author was trying to do. So with that given and your insight into this one, I am not located on the fence. Do I add to the TBR?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahaha it’s amazing to see you enjoy true crime so much these days! 😀 I wanted to read this book because I’ve heard about the author before (she did the graphic novels for Stieg Larson’s series) and wanted to experience my first Denise Mira book now. The topic of course interested me and I’d definitely never pass on the opportunity to read about a killer or a famous trial. I ended up feeling like there wasn’t enough to keep me super pumped and intrigued throughout the book, but that’s also cause there isn’t that much you could with the info you have on this case and this killer. If you want to learn about the trial and find out about the killer, it will be an interesting read. The writing will however come down to each person’s liking, and so it’s hard for me to say if it’s something you’ll enjoy more than I did. I’d recommend trying a sampler or reading the first chapter at the library rather than purchasing this. It all really comes down to how much the case interests you really hahah. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          They are soooo tempting aren’t they? 😛 I try to keep my eyes away from Helter Skelter so I wouldn’t be tempted to buy it on the spot hahaha Hope you do enjoy it when you get around to it. If I don’t pick it up and read it before you, I’ll definitely use your thoughts on it to rearrange its position in my priority list this year. 😛

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvo says:

    Great review! I love a good true crime story but it does have the dangers of sounding like a Discovery channel episode as you put it. A shame this one was one of them! Because the blurb sounded fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you so much Yvo! 😀 Yeh, it can be hard to please readers and make it constantly interesting. This one was more oriented on dialogues than anything else too. It can definitely be interesting for some people. I do like non-fiction that is told like fiction, those are definitely really fun to read. Nonetheless, this book offered me the opportunity to read on a case I never heard about. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      It’s definitely worth a shot, especially if you’ve never heard about the story. You’ll learn some really interesting things out of this and will be surprised by others. I’m sure the writing can be admired by others, I just personally couldn’t connect with it in particular. True crime is definitely hella fun to read about.. as messed up as that sounds hahah Thank you so much for reading Donna! I appreciate the time you spent for this review! ❤

      Like

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Someone who’s read the book! I’m so glad to hear your thoughts on it. I have to admit that my favourite parts were related to the trial more than the time Peter Manuel spends with William. I especially loved those last moments before the execution. There’s definitely this darker and stagnant feel to the story, but I think I just expected something much more poignant in the writing. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me! 🙂

      Like

  3. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer says:

    I like the topic about capital punishment and how she weaves the killer’s thoughts into the novel. True crime quite often has a bit of a documentary feel but when I’m in the right mood I don’t really mind so much so perhaps I could still enjoy this one. Too bad it didn’t really work out for you this way. Great and clear review though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you so much Inge! That is indeed true. I’m sure there are people who will greatly enjoy this case and the author’s contribution in her recreation of unknown events. The story as a whole was definitely interesting and does bring into play something you’re less likely to see in stories today (capital punishment). I think its cause of those authors out there who manage to write true crime like fiction that made me realize the drastic contrast in writing styles. This is definitely worth checking out if it has piqued your interest. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Evans says:

    Some great thoughts mate, sorry to hear this wasn’t your cup of tea. I think the 1950s Scotland setting sounds interesting but when the writing isn’t for you then it ain’t for you my friend – a good concept is only as good as the execution I very often find!

    Off topic…have you seen Wonder Woman yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks man. You’re definitely right. I appreciated the story that was told how the author conveys it, but I guess the writing was just not as appealing as I wish it was. It isn’t so bad since, in the end, I ended up enjoying the story.

      Yes, sir! Saw it on June 2nd and I just wrote up my thoughts about it! Going to hope on over to your blog to check out your thoughts on it now. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. LizScanlon says:

    As always, Lashaan, fabulous review! You just always deliver! 🙂
    This sounds really interesting so it’s a possibility I may read the book… I haven’t actually heard about the case so I will check it out!
    That cover gives me the shivers tho.. it’s just so grim and realistic… *shudders*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Awn man, I always appreciate your support and your TOOOO kind words! ❤ It's definitely worth checking out if the case in itself interests you. You'll learn some pretty interesting things about the trial, as well as a fascinating lie-filled story about that unknown hours that a killer and a suspected victim spend together. I was surprised by the cover when I got the copy; I don't even think Goodreads has this cover released yet. Definitely loved the surprise hahah 😀

      Like

  6. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    For some reason I’m not really a big reader of crime books like these. Which I find a little strange considering I love shows like CSI and Criminal Minds and the thriller/mystery books I have read are ones I’ve really enjoyed. This sounds like a really interesting book as well, it’s just a shame the writing wasn’t really your cup of tea Lashaan. There have been books like this for me and it’s always been a struggle to finish them at times.
    Still great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I guess the books you currently read/plan on reading interest you even more than thrillers and mystery books! I’d definitely recommend looking into some of them and add them to your reading throughout the year, especially since you acknowledge your own interest in them! 😀 I definitely agree with the struggle of finishing books where the writing isn’t your cup of tea. It wasn’t a worst-case scenario here since the book was still interesting when it comes down to its content though. Thanks for reading Beth! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        I’m a mood reader so the way I choose books is solely based on what I feel like reading that day. Either way I’ll definitely find some more thriller/mystery reads to add to my to-read list! 🙂
        You managed to still get through this one, even when the writing wasn’t as interesting as you’d hoped it would be.
        That’s all right! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  7. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    oh such a shame that the writing wasn’t your cup of tea- though I totally get what you’re talking about- I love the way you described the short sentences “making it feel like we were repeatedly jabbed”- brilliant!!! Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    True crime is not my thing. My mother loves detective books so I read those with her sometimes. If I’m not a fan of the writing though I will find it a super slog… that’s probably why I admire you as a reviewer so much… you don’t seem to be as affected by that slog as much as I would be… As for the short, pointy narrative style it sounds very old fashioned journalism like from before the story format was their go to tool… just my take from your words! Great review, concise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Ohhhw, thank you so much for your kind words. I came to realize that too of myself as a reader. I guess I just prefer reaching the end of a book, even if it’s bad, so that I can have the full picture to review and back up anything I have to say. Your take on the narrative style sounds pretty interesting. I don’t think you’re wrong either. It was true crime after all and Denise Mina had no other choice but to stick to the fact and try to capture the atmosphere of the era as simply as possible. Thank you again for your kind words and for reading! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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