Slip of the Knife
by Denise Mina
Paddy Meehan is no stranger to murder--as a reporter she lives at crime scenes--but nothing has prepared her for this visit from the police. Her former boyfriend and fellow journalist Terry Patterson has been found hooded and shot through the head. Paddy knows she will be of little help--she had not seen Terry in more than six months. So she is bewildered to learn that in his will he has left her his house and several suitcases full of notes. Drawn into a maze of secrets and lies, Paddy begins making connections to Terry's murder that no one else has seen, and soon finds herself trapped in the most important--and dangerous--story of her career.
Read an excerpt.
1. Why do you think Denise Mina chooses to begin the novel from Terry’s point of view? Is his death so early in the novel a surprise?
2. Paddy’s family members play important roles in this novel. How have the Meehan family dynamics changed since the death of Paddy’s father? What is the importance of Mary Ann’s vocation to her mother? Discuss the alternative forms of “family” that the novel presents. How does Paddy’s own definition of family change in the course of the novel?
3. How does Paddy’s life as a single mother affect her relationship to her work? What does the novel suggest about the balance between personal and professional obligations for a character like Paddy?
4. Discuss the role Callum Ogilvy plays in the story. Does your opinion of him change from the novel’s beginning to end?
5. Discuss the ways in which religion limits different characters’ views of each other in the novel.
6. Much of Slip of the Knife is concerned with changes to the journalistic profession and the economic difficulties facing newspapers today. Describe some of these changes, and discuss the ways in which they affect the kinds of journalism that gets published.
7. Discuss the differences between Brian Donaldson and Martin McBree. Is either of them ever a sympathetic character? Why do you think Denise Mina chooses to narrate parts of the novel from Martin McBree’s perspective?
8. Explain why the Scottish police are protecting Martin McBree. How does this novel change your understanding of present day relations between Scotland and Ireland? Among Scotland, Ireland, and England?
9. What is Slip of the Knife saying about the usefulness of revenge? Does the novel carry a message about what makes a political cause just or unjust?
10. What do you think the future holds for Paddy and Dub as a couple?
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