Cover Image: The Long Drop

The Long Drop

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

In The Long Drop, Mina follows the trial of Peter Manuel, a serial killer in 1950's Scotland. Mina uses the trial of Manuel as the frame to tell the story around, and while this keeps the story progressing, at times the jump between the then and now is awkward and confusing for readers.  Mina does an excellent job of character development and readers feel the tension around the trial as it moves forward.  The Long Drop leaves readers feeling both relieved and unsettled around the trial and outcome of Manuel.
Was this review helpful?
THE LONG DROP was this author's first attempt at writing true crime.  This is the story of Peter Manuel and the murder of three women in the family of William Watt.  

In the beginning,  Glasgow police held William Watt as the prime suspect in the killings.  Watt determines to clear his own name since the police don't seem interested in looking any further for the real killer.

When he reaches out asking for information, he receives a letter from Peter Manuel.  He claims he knows who the killer is, demands a huge sum of money ... but then he's known to be a liar.  So is he telling the truth this time?  Or is this another play for money?

Manuel wants a sit-down meeting with Watt and soon enough, the drinking gets out of hand and the two men spend a long night in many bars and clubs.

The next time the unlikely pair meets is across the witness stand in court--where Manuel is on trial for the murder of Watt's family. Manuel calls Watt to the stand to testify about the long, shady night they shared together. And the shocking testimony that Manuel coaxes out of Watt threatens to expose the dark hearts of the guilty...and the innocent.

This is a look at crime in 1950s Glasgow.  It's dark and dreary.  None of the characters have any redeeming qualities .. and they just weren't likeable.   I have read other books by this author and enjoyed her writing.  This one was just a miss for me.

Many thanks to the author / Little, Brown and Company  / Netgalley for the digital copy of THE LONG DROP.  Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Was this review helpful?
I really love how Denise Mina writes.  Her books are smart, atmospheric and well paced.  This felt like a departure, as I am familiar with her detective series work, but not her stand-alone work.  And I must also admit that I was wholly unfamiliar with the famous case that this book drew from.  But even without knowing that this was based on a true story, it was gripping, perplexing and a really fun read.  I can only imagine how great it would be for readers already aware of the circumstances surrounding the infamous case.
Was this review helpful?
"The Long Drop is a re-imagining of the Peter Manual trial and of the drunken night two men spent carousing in Glasgow."

Ever since I read the fantastic "Garnethill" I have been a devout fan of Denise Mina. This time around the 'Queen of Granite Noir' has turned her hand to the fictionalization of a true crime. As with everything else she writes, she did it brilliantly.  So brilliantly in fact that she has just won the McIlvanney Prize for this book!

Mina's Glasgow of sixty years ago matches Chicago for its criminal past. Filled with career criminals, illegal arms, avarice, drunkenness, and desperation, Glasgow was then a dark place, both figuratively with its pervasive violence; and literally due to the myriad coal fires.

"Above the roofs every chimney belches black smoke. Rain drags smut down over the city like a mourning mantilla."

The story features famous Glaswegian criminal Peter Manuel and his association with a rich local businessman, William Watt.

"Mr Watt likes power and being near powerful people".

Watt was accused of murdering his wife, his sister-in-law, and his daughter. The case came to be known as "The Burnside Affair". His celebrity lawyer, Laurence Dowdall gets him released from prison, though the police continue to believe he is guilty. Watt maintains his innocence and places the blame on career criminal Peter Manuel. Strangely, Watt and Manuel spend a drunken night together in Glasgow. Friends? How unlikely... Even stranger, it is Dowdall who introduces the two.

"Dowdall is a storyteller. He knows how slippery truth is."

As the pages are turned, the reader realizes that no one here is truly innocent, though Manuel's guilt seems evident from the off. Dowdall thinks him to be a malevolent liar. The reader is made aware that he is much more: a maniacal psychopath, an aspiring novelist, an impotent sadist, and a man with a violent temper.

Interestingly, Manuel fires his legal counsel and opts to represent himself in court.

"Then he talks for six hours, largely without notes. He tells all the stories of each of the murders individually."

The author's descriptive re-imagining of events prior to, and during, Manuel's trial for eight murders adds to the reader's enjoyment. She makes both villain and victim so real that they seem alive, thus making the reader more empathetic toward them. The reader feels particular empathy for Peter Manuel's mother due to Mina's true understanding of her plight. Vivid dialogue and scenes transport the reader to 1950s Glasgow.

"It is 1958 and a husband has the legal right to rape and beat his wife.
That's a private matter, a matter for the home."

Yes, without doubt, it is Mina's writing that brings this historic string of crimes to vivid life.  Obviously well researched, she has taken crime transcripts and newspaper coverage and caused them to come alive with her brilliant prose and dialogue.  I do have a quibble with the description on Goodreads which calls this a 'psychological thriller' just because that is the genre Mina usually writes.  This is a historical true crime fictionalized in an entertaining way. I am not normally a 'true crime' fan, but when facts are disguised by skillful prose, I am won over.

"The long drop method snaps the neck between the second and third vertebrae. Done properly, death is instantaneous."

For photos taken around the time of the actual trial see: http://murderpedia.org/male.M/m/manue...
and
http://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/his...

Congratulations to Denise Mina who won the Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017 for The Long Drop. It is the first time a woman has won the award!
The award was announced Friday, September 8, 2017 at the opening night of Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s international Crime Writing Festival.

I was provided a complimentary digital copy of this novel by Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Wasn't able to finish before archiving, but Denise Mina is one of my favorite authors.
Was this review helpful?
This book was all I hoped for and more. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Loved the writing, loved the characters and loved the story.
Was this review helpful?
This is a very interesting fictional recreation of an actual crime, trial and punishment scenario from the late 1950s Scotland, and a standalone departure from Mina's mystery series. The criminal and crimes are known; this book recreates the process of finally identifying and trying him as well as proposing possible scenarios for others' culpability or complicity in what happened after the murders and before arrest and trial. It is a fascinating reconstruction of another era of policing, another time in the criminal world also.

The portraits of the people involved are scary. Criminals appeared to have significant power in Glasgow of those days and truth was often a victim. Mina has used non-fiction sources to create her novel which I found fascinating, while also disturbing. But I think any work based on true crime involving serial murder has to be disturbing. This book is structured in chapters alternating between Peter Manuel's trial in 1958 and events in 1957 as various individuals scrambled to point fingers and be sure blame was assigned properly. These individuals were not police. Enough said!

This is my first book by Denise Mina and I find I like her writing style. I plan to check out her series books now too.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Long Drop is the historic, but semi-fictional account of the life and death of Peter Manuel, a serial rapist and killer in Scotland in the 1950s. 
The story is very grim. All of the main characters are despicable, and their reprehensible acts are described in detail. There didn't seem to be a purpose in this negativity, and I found myself feeling vaguely disgusted much of the time.
I had difficulty following the plot and was confused a lot of the time about what was happening. I had to stop and put it down to read other books in between several times, partly because it was so difficult to follow, and partly because of the depressing atmosphere.  Because the author has exceptional writing skills, I believed if I kept reading, all would become clear. Unfortunately, at the end, I was still unsure of what this was about. 
I was impressed by Mina's ability to describe people and places, and I found myself admiring these skills many times. It was easy to picture the gritty underbelly of Scotland in the 1950s and the unsavory characters that inhabited it. I plan to read another book by Denise Mina before forming a lasting impression. I think the execution (no pun intended) of this one just didn't work for me. 

Note:I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really interesting novel about a real-life serial killer in Scotland in the 1950’s.  I say interesting because it wasn’t quite like anything else I’ve read.  It’s not a mystery or a thriller, or a true crime novel.  It’s a little closer to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, although I hesitate to compare anything to that book.

Much of the novel takes place at two different times, each after the crimes were committed: the trial in 1958, and a December night in 1957, when the accused and another man met and went out drinking.  William Watts was accused of murdering his wife, daughter, and sister-in-law in their beds while he was away on a golf trip.  Desperate to clear his name, he meets up with Peter Manuel, a hardened criminal who says he knows where the gun is that killed Watts’ family.  The men meet up to talk business, and somehow end up drinking together until morning.  In that time they go to three different bars and Watts’ brother’s house.

While the meeting between the two men is fictionalized, the facts about the crimes and the two men are true.  Mina uses this one long night as a way to explore the thinking of both men and what might have happened.  Through the trial we’re given the facts of the case, but as you read this book you don’t quite know which man is guilty, Manuel or Watts.

I read this book not knowing anything about the real life case.  I didn’t even know it was based on real life until the end.  I enjoyed this book because it really focuses on getting into the heads of these two not-very-nice men, and the interplay between them.  At the same time it shows us a glimpse of the underworld in 1950’s Glasgow (and I do love all things Scottish).

I suspect American readers might be a little put off by the book, because it’s not what we’re used to.  There isn’t a lot of courtroom drama (although I found the trial particularly interesting) and no heart-racing ending.  But there is a slow unfolding of what might have happened and why.

I really enjoyed reading about some of the legal aspects of a criminal trial in Scotland in the 50’s.  I was most surprised by how quickly everything happened, from arrest to trial to sentence, and that’s all true.  I was also interested to learn that Scotland (Great Britain) eliminated its death penalty in 1965.

Author Mina is a Scottish crime writer and playwright.  She was born in Glasgow and has published several mystery series as well as graphic novels, in addition to documentaries on TV and radio.  This book counts towards my Reading All Around the World challenge.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and publisher Little, Brown and Company.  The book was released May 23, 2017.
Was this review helpful?
This story is based on the life and crimes of Peter Manuel, a serial killer in 1950's Scotland. Told in dual storylines; one follows Manuel's trials for seven murders, while the other details a night spent with William Watt, whose family Manuel is accused of killing.
This is the first book by Denise Mina I have read; she is the author of several other novels, including the Alex Morrow series of crime fiction. I found this to be a very dark book, which makes sense given the topic. Mina's writing is very descriptive and I felt like I could picture 1950's Glasgow as well as if I'd been there myself.  When I first read the description of the book, I thought it might be told as a mystery, but it wasn't. You know pretty quickly the major events of the crimes, it's the cover up that is explained throughout the story. The author takes us inside the minds of both Manuel and Watt and gives us a glimpse at what they may have been thinking and the possible causes behind their actions.  
If you like true crime, and reading about Scotland in this time period, then you would enjoy this book.
Was this review helpful?
“He doesn’t say anything compassionate about Isabelle or Anne, two dead seventeen-year-old girls. To him they are no more than skin-covered stage flats in a play about him.”

I knew very little about the murders committed by Scottish serial killer, Peter Manuel, who was hanged for some of his crimes in 1958, and while I tend to avoid fiction written about real people, Denise Mina’s The Long Drop sounded intriguing.

The Long Drop is both a reconstruction and a re-imaging of the case. The book opens in December 1957 with a businessman named William Watt who attends a meeting with career criminal Peter Manuel. The meeting has been brokered by celebrity lawyer Laurence Dowdall who, on the way to the meeting, gives Watt, his client, various pieces of advice about how to handle Manuel. This advice is needed as Peter Manuel is a slippery customer, manipulative, cunning and extremely dangerous.

The Long Drop

Dowdall, trying to hang onto professional integrity leaves Watt and Manuel alone. But why are Manuel and Watt meeting? For those (like me) who know very little about Manuel’s bloody, violent career, he was accused of, convicted and hanged for (as the book’s title suggests) murder. Watt’s wife, sister-in-law and daughter were three of the victims. They were shot in the Watt home, and initially Watt was the main suspect. The meeting between Manuel and Watt, brokered by Watt’s lawyer, is ostensibly for Watt to ascertain specific, secret information Manuel has regarding the murders.

The meeting morphs into a nightlong pub crawl with Manuel and Watt hitting many dingy, dank pubs of Glasgow. At this point, I put the book down. Could this have really happened? If you suspected that a man murdered your wife, daughter and sister-in-law, could you spend a whole night with him, buying him drinks? Truth is stranger than fiction. In the case of the Speed Freak Killers, for example, a large sum of money was promised to the killers in exchange of information about buried bodies. It’s possible that if you were desperate for information, you could put your personal feelings aside and make a pact with the devil. Possible if you had great personal restraint.

And William Watt was a desperate man. Although he was on holiday the night his family members were murdered, he’d taken the family’s dog, his wife’s dog with him–something he’d never done before, and eyewitnesses (who were later discredited) placed him on the road traveling back to Glasgow in the wee hours. Plus Watt had a mistress and his wife was an invalid. There was a lot at stake for Watt who was initially arrested but later released without charge.

Back to the book….

The Long Drop goes back and forth from the night (11 hours) in 1957 when Watt and Manuel went on an epic pub crawl to the trial of Peter Manuel in 1958. The night Watt and Manuel spend together reveals the dark side of a long vanished Glasgow. The smoke filled pubs habituated by the underworld in a city that will be renovated:

The coal smog is heavy and damp here, it swirls at ankle height. This dank world is peopled with tramps and whores from Glasgow Green and clapped out street fighters. A burning brazier lights men with fight-flattened noses slumped against a crumbling black wall.

Although this is a long dead case, with a terminal solution, Denise Mina brings the story to life while raising some intriguing questions both about the night Watt and Manuel spent together and about subjects raised during the trial. While Watt, who decides to “turn detective,” is seen as out-of-his-depth, a bit of a bumbler, Peter Manuel “is in a very different film. His would be European, black and white, directed by Clouzot or Melville, printed on poor stock and shown in art-house cinemas to an adults-only audience. There wouldn’t be violence or gore in the movie, this is not an era of squibs or guts-on-screen, but the implication of threat is always there.” 

Manuel is a sly, cunning psychopath and we see the various sides of the man. There’s the Manuel he’d like to be: a writer, a man about town, the man who’s courteous with women, but then there’s the sexually frustrated, violent son who intimidates his mother, and then there’s the charmer who tries to project his charisma and intelligence to the unbelieving jury. Manuel is a fantasist, a psychopath whose narcissism leads him to fire his defense counsel and conduct his own defense. We see Manuel’s staggering misreadings in the courtroom–evidence of his stunted emotional projection.

Peter Manuel does not know how other people feel. He has never known that. He can guess. He can read a face and see signs that tell him if someone is frightened or laughing. But there is no reciprocation. He feels no small echo of what his listener is feeling.

There’s a reimagining here–a fiction element of the novel which I cannot address fully without spoilers.  I understand why the author became so obsessed with this case, and why The Long Drop was created. For this reader, Denise Mina offered a possible explanation in a fill-in-the-blank way. As a work of fiction, it’s an excellent read, but while the author’s version is plausible, there’s an ethical position to this imagining. Those involved cannot challenge the book.

I follow the reviews written by fellow crime addict reader Cleo, and she also reviewed Denise Mina’s book, The Long Drop favourably.

Review copy
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Denise Mina’s The Long Drop is a unique book in the crime fiction genre. Not quite true crime, but also not a fictional tale, The Long Drop is somewhat similar to the method Truman Capote used with In Cold Blood – fiction inspired by actual events. However you classify it, The Long Drop is a well-written account of both a diabolical criminal and some of the oddities within his story.

Told largely in alternation sections, the chapters leading up to the court case and the eventual trial itself are rooted in authentic accounts from the time. Certainly there is still the element of dramatization in these moments, but much of this is verifiable from court transcripts. The chapters where William Watt and Peter Manuel spend a long evening bar-hopping and chatting – not to mention the much more complex interaction between the two men during that night journey – is an imagined version of a meeting that did actually occur.

William Watt’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law were killed. Glasgow police found him to be a credible suspect and Watt was ultimately booked for the crime. Eventually, upon release, he began his own investigation and solicits information from the public, a move that pulls Peter Manuel into his orbit. Events transpire to place Watt and Manuel on the above-mentioned odd outing – drinking far too much at too many bars – where Watt hopes to encourage a confession. Who is manipulating whom in this scenario is part of the deep exploration of that evening and readers will find themselves easily strung along by Denise Mina’s hypnotic prose.

There is a methodical method to Denise Mina’s telling of this story. Because the crime itself was committed in the past and readers have a varying sense of how this case resolved itself, the tension is built from the clash of these two minds. This is a slow-boil of a thriller and yet readers will without a doubt feel the tug of forward momentum while reading The Long Drop. The book is relatively short (around 250 pages), so many readers will finish this in just a few sittings – and this is how the book is best consumed.

Denise Mina has always been a writer with a firm grasp of setting. Here she draws readers into Glasgow, Scotland of the 1950’s – a gloomy place indeed. By treating the characterization of that city in the same way she treats that of her two main characters, Mina creates an entangled web in which the removal of any piece would result in a collapse of the entire novel. This is a very specific crime of that moment, in that location, with those participants. There is an inevitability which is hard to put into words, but which the reader feels the longer they remain immersed in The Long Drop.

Easily a highlight of the crime fiction output so far this year, The Long Drop, like most of Denise Mina’s writing, will appeal to a wide variety of readers not just those devoted to the crime genre. This particular novel is especially recommended for fans of true crime television shows like 48 Hours and Dateline and those who enjoy podcasts like Serial and S-Town.
Was this review helpful?
The Long Drop is written in the third person and read as though the narrator was spying on the external actions and internal thoughts of the characters. The overall book has the feeling of a good film noir. Puzzle pieces are added to the mystery in a non-conventional manner, leaving the reader not 100% sure they have been lead down the correct path. I had no idea, while reading this book, that it was based on true events. After reading accounts of Peter Manuel, the Beast of Birkenshaw, it was easy to see the twists and extra touches Ms. Mina added to the story to flesh it out for the book. This is definitely a book that will keep the readers’ attention!
Was this review helpful?
I had a very hard time getting into this book. The beginning was so choppy, and I ended up DNFing it at about the 10% mark because I just couldn't focus on the book. The narrative style just wasn't for me. Judging by other reviews, I think this was a personal taste issue, as many others appear to have highly enjoyed this novel.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Denise Mina has written a fictionalized account of a real-life case. No one knows what happened the night that Watt and Manuel spent together, but what this talented writer has imagined certainly fills in the blanks well. Her depiction of the city of Glasgow in the 1950s is stunning. She serves up a vivid portrait of the city and its criminals before "the biggest urban redevelopment project in post-war Europe."

For those of you who like a big dollop of sunshine and smiles in your reading, you're not going to find it here. The Long Drop (think of the hangman) deals almost exclusively with criminals-- people who lie, cheat, steal, rape, and murder. The book can be quite grim, but it is a compelling tale of guilt and innocence. Peter Manuel is chilling. Whether he's a psychopath or a sociopath, it doesn't matter. He's bad news. Working with the trial transcripts, Mina is able to show Manuel's Achilles' heel, and that is the one bright spot in the book. Besides the depiction of Glasgow during this period, watching Manuel conduct his own defense during his murder trial is the best part of the book. I may not have been in the right mood for such a depressing book, but I would not have missed it for the world.
Was this review helpful?
This review is posted on MBTB's blog:

What do you do after you’ve written a bunch of much-praised, dark crime novels? You don’t go to Disneyland; you write a dark non-fiction crime book. And you write it with style.

“The Long Drop” is only non-fiction in the sense that it is based on actual crimes in 1950s Glasgow and the actual trial of the accused perpetrator, Peter Manuel. At his trial, during which he fired his lawyers, Manuel talked for six hours on the witness stand, providing rich material for author Denise Mina.

One of the crimes for which Manuel was convicted was the murder of three women in William Watt’s home. Watt’s wife, sister-in-law, and teenage daughter were the victims. Although Watt was out of town at the time, he was arrested for their murders. Manuel was a resident of the local prison when he claimed he knew who had really killed the women and could even produce the gun that murdered them. Manuel provided a detailed description of Watt’s home and what the killer had done there. This is Mina’s starting point for her story.

There is no dispute that Watt met with Manuel before Manuel was arrested for the Watt and other murders. In Mina’s story they spend many hours together one long night. Did Watt suspect Manuel of having been the murderer at the time? Was Watt the actual murderer? (It is clear that Manuel accused Watt of being the murderer of his family during Manuel’s trial.) In the book, Watt is an alcoholic who goes on a night-long drinking spree with Manuel. Manuel is portrayed as someone who is not capable of empathy, cannot “read” people’s emotions, and has unpredictable bursts of anger. Watt is portrayed as someone who has a mistress and maybe found it inconvenient to be married, has criminal connections, and fancies himself one of the city’s elite.

Denise Mina turns fact into fiction by supplying her version of what went on during that long night of drinking, including meeting with Glasgow criminals, like crime boss Dandy McKay. Here is Mina’s description of McKay:

"Dandy wears a suit, double-breasted with a broad stripe in blue and pink. He looks like a settee. He has a red carnation in his buttonhole, wilted, denoting the hour. His tie is purple and green."

The story of that night alternates with scenes from Manuel’s trial a few months later. Mina's perspective of the case presents intriguing possibilities about guilt and innocence, and presents some issues as ambiguous.

Glasgow in the 1950s has never gleamed with such a dark and shiny luster as it does in Mina’s book. She flexes her Glaswegian muscle to present the characters behind one of Glasgow’s most infamous stories. Even when Mina sets a scene, she does so with choice and evocative words. For instance, “The grate is chrome, long and pinched, a prissy kiss of a grate.” She packs more in her 240 pages than most authors would in 420.
Was this review helpful?
For an American reader ignorant of Scottish history (such as myself), this book reads as crime fiction. It is, actually, based on a true case in Glasgow in the 1950s. The writer--an accomplished storyteller herself--constructs a plausible alternate back story about one set of murders in this serial killer's body of work. The ending is not perfect, but neither is life. Recommended for all libraries. Librarians can refer fans of true crime to this book.
Was this review helpful?
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.

The Long Drop begins in the middle of the story (fitting enough, considering how much is unknown about Manuel). A solicitor and his client meet with an informer who claims to know what happened to the client’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law. The three women were murdered in September of 1956. The husband and father, William Watts, was the Glasgow police’s first and only suspect. He began to investigate the murders himself, since the police wouldn’t look at any other suspects. As the night goes on, however, Watts and others slowly learn that Peter Manuel—the informer—knows a lot more than he should. The longer anyone knows him, the more they realize that there is something deeply wrong with the man.

The novel then starts moving back and forth in time, revolving around the night Watts and Manuel got profoundly drunk and shared secrets. We never see the murders reconstructed. Mina leaves them ambiguous, making us wonder if Manuel really did commit them. We do see a lot of Manuel’s trial in the second half of the book. We also get to see the last weeks of Manuel’s life before his execution.

Peter Manuel, both in life and in The Long Drop, is a compulsive liar. He has a desperate need to be the hero of his own life. He’s a terrible liar, constantly contradicting himself and spinning completely unbelievable yarns about “what really happened.” Between these lies and the lack of a proper investigation, we can only draw our own conclusions about Manuel’s guilt—which I think makes for a fascinating take on true crime nonfiction. I’ve never read anything quite like The Long Drop before, but I hope to read more from Mina in the future.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 23 May 2017.
Was this review helpful?