Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina (Little Brown 2012)

Morrow watched her brother walk into the cafe like a mayoral candidate, waving to other customers, clamping the proprietor's hand in a two-handed shake, nodding to Morrow as he swapped pleasantries with the man's wife.

Danny suggested meeting here because this was how he wanted her to see him: popular, belonging, accepted. The cafe owner looked up to him smiling, slightly awe-struck. Morrow knew then that Danny owned part of this business or had lent the man money. The man didn't like him, he owed him. Maybe didn't register the difference.

It was positive, in a way, that he wanted her to see him as a good guy, instead of in a big car or with totems of his wealth around him, and it was probably a big deal that he came alone, or almost alone. She could see a man sitting in the driver's seat in the big car across the road, but Danny had left him out there.

Still, the cafe business was a cash business, perfect for cleaning up the vast sums of money Danny and his associates were generating every day. The drugs trade was worth more than a billion pounds a year in Scotland. Some said four billion but the source of that number was looking for more funding so she wasn't sure about that. Whatever the absolute number, it was telling that cash businessses were being taken over. Hairdressers, sunbed shops, nail bars, cafes, pubs were being either taken over or opened up to give a credible source for the tidal wave of dirty notes. Some high streets had row upon row of tanning salons right next to each other to account for various people's income. Even nurseries, Morrow had heard, even there the gangs were using businesses and claiming for fifty ghost children attending, all  doing 8-6 every day, all paid for in cash.

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