Minette Walters has well and truly established herself as one of the most exciting crime fiction writers today. Five of her novels have now been adapted as television dramas by the BBC, three having been shown on Australian television already, with The Echo and The Dark Room due to screen here in 1999. Minette lives in Dorset with her husband and two children.
Suspicion shifts from one person to another in this English whodunit. A strong reading by Robert Powell adds to the overall success of this plot-driven thriller. Clues abound, but so do dark and shameful secrets. It is up to Purbeck Constable Nick Ingram and Dorset Inspector John Gailbrait to unravel the truth from the threads of lies that are told. Character development is a bit spotty, but this is a good tale nonetheless. Note that some scenes do contain explicit language. Recommended.ÄDenise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Walters's novels (The Echo, 1997, etc.) depict complex, fallible people caught in intricate plots whose course and solution defy guesswork. Here, a woman's body washes up on the Dorset coast; then a toddler is found wandering alone in the nearby town of Poole. Initially, the investigation identifies two suspects, later a third, with both the police and the reader unable to establish definite means and opportunity, although all three suspects have motives. The dead woman, Kate SumnerÄwho had been raped and strangled, her fingers broken before she drownedÄwas chameleonlike: a greedy, malicious social climber, but an attentive wife and loving mother. Her husband may be a browbeaten yet adoring spouse, but his child fears him and his alibi is questionable. One suspect, Steven Harding, is a self-absorbed, sex-obsessed actor and a compulsive liar, but there's little evidence of his rumored affair with Kate. His friend Tony Bridges is a respected high school chemistry teacher with a heavy dope habit and a yen for his female students. The local constable, Nick Ingram, whose lack of ambition hides a probing mind and sharp insights into the human psyche, is immersed in the perplexing case. His investigation reacquaints him with stableyard owner Maggie Jenner, whose marriage to a confidence man shattered her family and its fortune, for which she unreasonably holds Nick responsible; Maggie and Nick's slow, witty courtship is one of the great pleasures of the novel. Each time the police develop a strong case against one suspect, the evidence shifts, pointing to another. Finally, a clever analysis of events and of human motivation leads them to the guilty party. This is psychological suspense at its best, engendered in a novel whose sinuous plot and enigmatic characters will captivate readers as surely as newfound love. (June)