In Slip of the Knife, the intrepid Paddy Meehan returns, still a Glasgow journalist (Daily News), still overweight ( but not enough to do anything about it), and a mother with a five-year-old son, Pete. Living in a new place with her flatmate-cum-lover, Dub, Paddy has left her Catholic childhood behind, her father dead after an agonizing illness, sister Mary Ann soon to take her vows as a nun.
Paddy is quite pleased with the direction of her life save a few loose ends, like the answer to the story of the original Paddy Meehan, a man unjustly imprisoned for murder and later exonerated, and the pending release of Callum Ogilvy, a baby killer incarcerated when he was only a child himself, abused and ignored by an indifferent society.
Then, with a knock on the door, Paddy is pulled back into the past and her love for fellow reporter Terry Hewitt, who has spent the last few years traveling the world as a correspondent. His coffeetable book is soon to be published, a small victory featuring the extraordinary photographs of his friend Kevin Hatcher. The police arrive announcing that Terry has been killed – executed, his nude body found near the Thames. The authorities need a positive identification.
The assassination style of the IRA is mentioned, but the police refute this idea as baseless. At the Daily News, Paddy’s editor gives the story to her and a rival, challenging Paddy to prove him wrong. Going purely on gut instinct, which is one of her particular strengths, Paddy follows up on the IRA potential, although she is met with blank stares and claims of ignorance.
However, when a cold-eyed stranger, “Michael Collins,” intrudes into her flat one night soon after Terry’s death, Paddy intuitively knows the man is dangerous, most likely a killer. When he leaves after a thinly veiled threat, Paddy is unsettled and anxious, the safety of her son at stake. Like a mother lion, she will do anything to protect Pete.
Paddy learns through a solicitor that Terry has left her all his worldly goods; it is through careful examination of his things that Paddy discovers the first hint of an answer. By then, Kevin Hatcher, the photographer, is dead as well. Paddy believes the two friends have unearthed a monster who will stop at nothing to protect his identity.
Moving inexorably toward a fateful decision that will bring Paddy face to face with her own mortality and a threat to her son, Paddy is distracted by a family emergency and the release of Callum Ogilvy after ten years in prison. Given Paddy’s oversized heart, she takes it all on, coming to Mary Ann’s aid in the face of family outrage and helping Callum avoid the onslaught of reporters in search of a hot story.
Surprising even herself, Paddy has to reach deeper than ever before to survive, her home vandalized, even Pete at risk in a high stakes game where no one is off limits. In Mina’s more than capable hands, this evolving protagonist is realistic and finely nuanced, Paddy Meehan on the precipice of her greatest challenge, forced to step over an irrevocable line.