The Long Drop

The Long Drop is Denise Mina's first foray into true crime. It is the story of Peter Manuel, a serial killer operating in the 1950s in Glasgow.

True crime stories always have two versions: the official verdict and the story people tell each other. Sometimes the difference is staggering.

On the 19th of September 1956 Peter Manuel broke into a suburban villa in Glasgow and shot three women in their beds. Then he made himself a ham sandwich. 

The father of the house, William Watt, was five hours drive away, on a fly fishing holiday but police still suspect him. Watt was odd. He had taken the guard dog with him, which he never did. He established his alibi like a man trying to establish an alibi. William Watt was accused of the murders and sent to prison for three months.

Released, Watt decided to investigate the murders himself and put out the word that he would pay for information. Peter Manuel came forward and the two men met for a drink in Glasgow. They spent eleven hours together, drinking, driving, talking. The next time they met was in the High Court in Glasgow, where Manuel was accused of those murders and many others.

The Long Drop is a reimagining of the trial and of the drunken night the two men spent carousing in Glasgow.


More about the book

Writing the book

Denise discusses writing Blood, Salt, Water and the book's characters and themes.

The title of the book was inspired by a quote by President John F Kennedy.

"All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea -- whether it is to sail or to watch it -- we are going back from whence we came."

Quoted in a Life magazine article by Arthur M Schlesinger Jr on 5 November 1965

Helensburgh and other small towns

View from Helensburgh across the River Clyde with the Waverley, the world's last seagoing paddle steamer, on the water.

Blood Salt Water is set in Helensburgh, a small town outside Glasgow in Scotland.

John Logie Baird, the inventor of television, came from the town. Find out more about Helensburgh on Wikipedia.

You can also see Denise's choice of her favourite small town noir novels on the Scottish Book Trust website.

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