Sue Walker is a television journalist and has worked for both the BBC and Channel 4, concentrating on crime investigative work and miscarriages of justice. Born in Edinburgh, she now lives on the Sussex coast. Visit her website at www.sue-walker.com . This is her first novel.
Walker's cleverly plotted novel resembles a locked-room mystery in that all of the suspects are known from the beginning. The group implicated is made up of the eight residents of "the Unit," a 1970s experimental psychiatric program for troubled but highly intelligent adolescents in Edinburgh, Scotland. Set in 2004, this compelling story uses case notes, flashbacks, and conversations as it gradually reveals the details of a 1977 event that has tied the group inextricably together and cast a shadow over their outwardly successful lives. In her debut novel, Walker, a London-based investigative journalist for BBC television, has created complex, believable characters at two pivotal times in their lives-as unstable, angry, but sympathetic teenagers and as adults in mid-life, once again in crisis as events force them to confront their shared past. This is a suspenseful, satisfying read. Although the characters' angst at times veers toward the melodramatic, Walker does a deft job of tying things up and justifying their extreme feelings and actions. Recommended for public libraries.-Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A shared, violent past haunts former patients of an Edinburgh adolescent psych unit in BBC reporter Walker's uneven debut thriller. In 2004, Innes Haldane, a graduate of the Unit, learns of the death of one of her former Unit friends, Isabella "Abby" Velasco. Flashing between the present and 1977, when the teens were institutionalized together, Walker shows her characters as deeply troubled kids and as variously disturbed adults plagued by guilty memories of a camping trip gone wrong. What happened back then? And does it spell death today? When Innes leaves her London job to look into Abby's alleged suicide, she learns that just before her death, Abby had started seeing Danny Rintoul, an accused rapist and former occupant of the Unit. Danny, she quickly learns, is another suspected suicide. Meanwhile, heartless stockbroker Alex Baxendale, another Unit grad, resists uncovering long-buried secrets, and Dr. Simon Caldwell, also a former Unit resident, is looking for clues to his daughter's kidnapping. Walker gives her characters so many secrets-and keeps hinting around at that old, big one-that it can be exhausting. She characterizes and summarizes hurriedly, rushing from one revelation to the next, and the psychology is often shallow (bad behavior is blamed on bad parents and bad therapy; redemption is found in confession and good therapy). But the ending offers many grisly surprises. Agent, Patty Moosbrugger. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.