Alastair Mabbott reviews Denina Mina's Conviction.

Denise Mina
Harvill Secker, £14.99

Keeping up an active Twitter presence while trying to elude hitmen doesn’t sound like the most sensible way of going about things – even if it’s not really that much stranger than some of the effects social media has had on our lives – but that’s the tense situation Anna McDonald finds herself in when her past catches up with her.

After becoming nationally known for all the wrong reasons back in the 1990s, she has been living under a false identity for long enough to marry a wealthy Glasgow lawyer and have two children. The day her husband reveals he’s running off with her best friend, Estelle, also happens to be the day when Anna’s obsession with true-crime podcasts throws up a name from her shadowy past. She learns from a series on the mystery of the sinking of the yacht Dana off the French coast that its drowned owner was Leon Parker, a man she got to know while working at Skibo Castle.

Into all this blunders Estelle’s newly-estranged husband, who drops in on Anna because he doesn’t know who else he can talk to. He’s Fin Cohen, a rock star who is now as famous for his anorexia as his songs. An excited neighbour tweets a photo of Fin on Anna’s doorstep, and Anna is immediately recognised as Sophie Bukaran, long missing and presumed dead. Now that she’s been outed, Anna/Sophie takes Fin on the run with her, suspecting that the people who attempted to kill her in the ‘90s will take another shot. But she has more in mind than just hiding. Having discovered that the owner of the Dana was Leon Parker, she thinks she could be in a position to solve the mystery of the sunken yacht, which she believes was carried out by the same person who tried to have her killed.

Ducking and diving across Western Europe, sometimes barely escaping pursuers by the skin of their teeth, Anna and Fin are on a trajectory that’s drawing them towards Gretchen Teigler, the fantastically rich heiress who was once married to Leon Parker and has another, much darker, connection with the former Sophie Bukaran.

Stripped of her Anna McDonald identity, Sophie is revealed as a woman of sharp edges, with reservoirs of anger and determination. She has little time for the emaciated Fin’s eating disorder and general haplessness, and the pair can’t help but get on each other’s nerves, bringing welcome tension and humour.

One prominent aspect of Conviction is that our intrepid duo keep Fin’s social media followers posted on their progress, which sounds insane considering they’re trying to outmanoeuvre assassins and threatens to derail one’s suspension of disbelief. But it does have its advantages, giving the fugitives the interesting angle of being able to crowdsource advice from an online community of crime buffs and conspiracy theorists. There are points when it looks as though Mina is struggling to locate a satisfying conclusion in all this, but she pulls it off with her customary flair and a final flourish.