In the course of this debut thriller, Mike Ford, the hero, is shot, stabbed, burned, choked, clubbed and almost drowned, decapitated and defenestrated. Yet, there he is, on the last page, still standing.
There is the matter of a man who ate his way through a wardrobe and another who chewed through a small airplane. And there is the alarming question of feet cut off at the ankle, wearing shoes and trying to hobble into an ancient cemetery.
It begins with darkness and murder. A young woman is brutally stamped to death by a teenager, and the most bitter irony is that she is the wrong woman. Denise Mina usually writes on the dark side, and she has perhaps outdone herself this time in a tragic study of the young and their sometimes cruel parents.
''Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." This gritty utterance, attributed variously to actors Peter O'Toole, Jack Lemmon and Edmund Gwenn, also could be applied to Tina Fey. In her newly released autobiography, "Bossypants," Miss Fey certainly puts the "comedy is hard" half of this adage through its paces.
Rankings reflect sales, for the week that ended July 10, at many thousands of venues where a wide range of general interest books are sold nationwide. These include hundreds of independent book retailers (statistically weighted to represent all such outlets); national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; university, gift, supermarket, discount department stores and newsstands. An (x) indicates that a book's sales are barely distinguishable from those of the book above. A (b) indicates that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders. Among those categories not actively tracked are perennial sellers; required classroom reading; text, reference and test preparation guides; journals and workbooks; calorie counters; shopping guides; comics and crossword puzzles. Expanded rankings are available on the Web: nytimes.com/books.
Best-Selling Books Week Ended July 11