My Confidence in my Book Taste is Waning: A Review of Confidence by Denise Mina
Hello, Book Nerds. Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
I hope all of my LGBTQIA+ readers had a great Pride month. I’m gonna take this moment and once again note that this is a safe space where transphobes and homophobes will not be tolerated. Now let’s get to today’s review.
Today’s review is brought to you by the Novel Suspects Insider’s Club and Mulholland Books; they aren’t paying me for my review they just sent me the book for free. Thank you so much for sending me an advanced copy. I know I always say this but it’s true, it means a lot to me that someone wants to send me books. Thank you for fueling my book habit.
So what am I reviewing today? Well, you already know since it’s in the title, but please welcome to the stage Confidence by Denise Mina! Confidence was released yesterday July 5, 2022.
As always, a spoiler alert is in order; you’ve been warned. Also, a content and trigger warning is necessary for this book. Confidence has mentions of rape and sexual assault, eating disorders, and self-harm that are brought up multiple times throughout the book. Please be aware of those things before going in. Now let’s get to the synopsis.
Anna McDonald and Fin Cohen are the hosts of the popular podcast Death and the Dana. It’s been awhile since their last big case, and then Lisa Lee happens. Lisa Lee is an Urban Explorer on YouTube who suddenly goes missing after answering the door to accept a pizza delivery. The cops, and most of the world, think Lisa’s father murdered her and hid the body, but for Anna and Fin, they believe she’s still alive and well.
Lisa’s case goes far beyond a kidnapping. The last video she posted featured an abandoned manor in France filled to the brim with religious icons. No one knows for sure why the previous occupants left everything in the manor, including a giant solid silver cross that had to be worth a pretty penny, but the fact is they did. And they left something even greater behind: a silver casket that holds the answer to if Jesus actually rose from the grave.
Lisa found this treasure hidden in a secret room. Now, her video never showed her taking this object from the house, but just days after her disappearance the same casket is set to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Complete with shady side characters that include the Boston mafia, a shady art dealer who is watching his young son that he never knew he had, and excommunicated priests just to name a few, Anna and Fin find themselves mixed up in the dark underbelly of the religious art world while gallivanting all across Europe and trying to solve Lisa Lee’s disappearance.
Have you ever watched The Little Mermaid? Do you remember the scene where Sebastian says, “the human world is a mess”? Well that’s this book. I don’t know where exactly to start if I’m being honest. This book is the messiest mess that has ever messed. I guess we’ll start with the characters as I always do, but brace yourself.
For the sake of my sanity, I’m only going to talk about Fin and Anna. If I talked about some of the side characters we’d be here all day and there is not enough time in the day to do that. So Fin and Anna, podcast hosts extraordinaries, messy bitches, have absolutely no personality, and are defined solely by their traumas. Seriously, the only personality traits these two have are the traumas they endured. Traumas don’t define a person, but in the world of Confidence they do.
On top of having no personalities, they have no character arcs either. At one point, Anna’s children find out that something horrible happened to their mother in her youth. The author sets up the idea of payoff. Anna tells her children that she’ll sit down with them and have a chat regarding her past, but only after she solves Lisa Lee’s disappearance. Well, she solves Lisa Lee’s disappearance, but we get no payoff regarding that conversation. Denise Mina has a great set up for Anna’s character arc, or at sets up the possibility of Anna growing closer to her children, but then never follows through with ti. The way it stands, Anna comes across as a bad mother, and I hate myself for saying that but it's true. She leaves her kids in the middle of a family vacation, ignores them throughout the rest of the story, and dodges their personal questions; it’s just not a good look.
I will say this in Anna’s defense. Opening up about past traumatic experiences is one of the hardest things to do. No one should be forced to discuss them if said person is not ready. This side story comes about in a way Anna does not control, and she’s not fully ready to discuss her traumas with her children. I totally get that. All I’m saying is there needs to be some sort of resolution to this matter. Don’t bring it up if there isn’t going to be any conclusion to it. I truly have no idea why this character’s traumas are brought up so much. They offer nothing to the plot, nor do they add anything to character development. They exist solely for tragic backstory, and it's not done well.
Now I turn to Fin. He objectively has worse character development than Anna. With Anna at least, there is the glimmer of a character arc. Fin doesn’t even get that. He’s just there with his past traumas as his only defining personality. He is the shell of a character. Honestly, the same can be said for all the other characters. No one in this book is a good character. They're just awful. All of them, every single one of them, is just awful.
I now turn to the plot. Which I have to say is as nonexistent as character development. The bare bones of this story are as follows: a young woman goes missing and a religious relic is somehow involved. Got it! That part is easy to follow. Everything after that is mess though.
First of all, the 1990 Gardner Museum Heist is somehow intertwined with our main story. That’s never fully developed and comes out of nowhere near the end. The second issue is the forced family aspect and side plot. If you remember my official synopsis, I mentioned a shady art dealer and his son. Our main characters, and readers, are stuck with these two horrible side characters for the entirety of the book. They're toxic to say the least. They scream and curse each other out on nearly every page- by the way the son is 12-years-old, just keep that in mind- and somehow readers are supposed to believe they’ve grown close and care for one another by the end of the book. I hate it. I hate those characters. The third issue with the plot is simply how unconvincing it is. It’s supposed to be a mystery, one that Anna and Fin are unraveling, but no one does anything and the "clue" don't add up. This is a story where people just happen to be in the right place at the right time and everything just perfectly happens and works itself out. I hate it here. Did I mention that? Cause I hate it here.
But wait, there’s more! This thriller is set up as Anna writing a book, from her point of view, about her latest adventure. There are also podcast transcripts included throughout. This style is not clear. I had no idea that this was supposed to be Anna writing a book until she said so a decent way into the story. The transcripts are not clear either. The stylization does not work. This whole book is just a mess. A messy, messy mess.
With that I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week with another review. And once again, a huge thank you goes out to Novel Suspects Insider’s Club and Mulholland Books for sending me an advanced copy of Confidence. It truly means a lot that you want to send me books.
Until next time, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.