The Long Drop by Denise Mina

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...

Title:The Long Drop
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0316380571
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:240 pages

The Long Drop Reviews

  • Sandy
    Mar 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.

  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    Mar 29, 2016

    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

    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.

  • Richard
    Jan 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.

  • Zuky the BookBum
    May 15, 2017

    This is the first book I've read by Denise Mina, but it won't be the last! I found this novel instantly exciting and by the time I got to 30% I was hooked and couldn't put it down, finally finishing it at 1:30 in the morning. This novel drips with menace and chills you to the bone in some parts, it's really a fantastic and quick thriller read.

    This book tells the story of Peter Manuel, real life Scottish serial killer. Like with so many other books on the market nowadays, this is a non-fic-fictio

    This is the first book I've read by Denise Mina, but it won't be the last! I found this novel instantly exciting and by the time I got to 30% I was hooked and couldn't put it down, finally finishing it at 1:30 in the morning. This novel drips with menace and chills you to the bone in some parts, it's really a fantastic and quick thriller read.

    This book tells the story of Peter Manuel, real life Scottish serial killer. Like with so many other books on the market nowadays, this is a non-fic-fiction novel. It's based its contents on real events but the author has weaved a story around it too.

    What's so striking about this novel is Mina's ability to tell a story. The story flowed brilliantly and it never lost my interest, even when we started getting into some of the more in-depth and historic facts about Glasgow. The writing style is short and snappy, so you really feel yourself racing through this.

    Characters. Oh wow, the characters. Somehow, you feel simultaneously angry and empathetic for everyone in this book, even Peter Manuel, the serial killer. Mina's character development is superb and you find yourself getting drawn into each person's story so quickly. We follow Peter Manuel and William Watt throughout most of this novel, but there are small scenes popped in that introduce characters we only meet once throughout the entire book, yet I still felt like I knew them and I still invested myself in their stories, no matter how short.

    Overall, this book was really superb and if you're looking for something dark, but quick to read, this is the book for you. At only 240 pages, you'll find yourself racing through this! I can't wait to read more of Mina's work, if it's all as good as this one.

  • Carol
    May 29, 2017

    I'm a fan of Mina's writing style, but this wasn't the book for me. It is based on a true crime in Glasgow in 1957. There is no mystery, no goodness, no hope, no puzzle to solve. Just the facts and they are bleak. Her ability to describe the bleakness? Second to few, I imagine.

  • Sandy
    Apr 09, 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.

  • Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
    Jun 03, 2017

    .

    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 tr

    .

    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.

    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.

    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

    for sending me an Advance Copy for review!

    Yours truly,

    Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer

    Official blog:

  • Susan Johnson
    May 31, 2017

    3.5 stars

    This is a fictionalized story about a true life crime in the 1950's. The trial of Peter Manuel apparently was quite famous as he left a wide swath of victims in his wake. He was also an incredibly stupid criminal who was his own worse enemy.

    William Watts family was brutally murdered and the book concerns a meeting between him and Manuel after the murders. The book fluctuates between that meeting and the trial of Manuel. It also deals with the underbelly of criminal life in Glasgow.

    Th

    3.5 stars

    This is a fictionalized story about a true life crime in the 1950's. The trial of Peter Manuel apparently was quite famous as he left a wide swath of victims in his wake. He was also an incredibly stupid criminal who was his own worse enemy.

    William Watts family was brutally murdered and the book concerns a meeting between him and Manuel after the murders. The book fluctuates between that meeting and the trial of Manuel. It also deals with the underbelly of criminal life in Glasgow.

    The book is remarkable in its atmospheric setting. It really has the feeling of the 1950's and captures the times quite well.

    Thanks to Net Galley for the copy of the book in exchange for a review.

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