In Association with

Author of the Month

Name: Minette Walters

First book: The Ice House

Most Recent Book: The Devil’s Feather (Publication: September, 2005)


Connie Burns is a journalist in Sierra Leone in 2002 when she meets a sadistic man with the name of John Harwood. He is renowned by the locals and ex-pats for being violent, especially towards women. Connie has been investigating the rape and murders of five women in the area and her journalistic suspicions centre on this man.

In 2004 she sees the same man under a different name in war torn Iraq. Connie begins to make some enquiries and comes up against a brick wall. Then, strange things start to happen in her hotel room. Obviously spooked, Connie decides to flee Iraq but is abducted before she can make it to safety. Three days later she is released, but visibly broken. Connie flees to England to recuperate. But danger is fast on her heels and Connie will need all her wits and strength to overcome this menace.



As with all Minette Walters’ books, you are very easily and rapidly sucked into the engrossing plot. Minette’s writing is simple but extremely captivating and you very easily begin to race through the pages. Also, Ms. Walters is never formulaic by any means. Her books always have a different setting and theme and are totally dissimilar from each other, whether it be a riot on a council estate, the racial murder of a black woman suffering from Tourette’s or an obese murderer.

I wouldn’t say this is one of her strongest novels, but it certainly has a high entertainment value. Minette’s novels usually have newspaper clippings and even hand written letters, which are sadly missing from this story. There are a few e-mails to break up the chapters, but they are certainly not as evident as in previous novels. As with many of her novels, the end is ambiguous, but not so that you feel cheated. This is certainly another page-turner that will be accompanying many people as the nights draw in!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


1) How would you describe your books?
The type that I like reading.

2) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It was the first appearance of Hannibal Lekter, the most original ‘crime’ creation of the last thirty years.

3) Would you describe yourself as a crime fan and if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
Of course. It’s a very strange crime writer who doesn’t admire his/her genre. I’m a big fan of the early British writers – Collins, Conan Doyle, Sayers, Christie, Allingham, Marsh – who established the genre, but I also admire any writer today who takes it in a new direction.

4) Without giving away the solution, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The murder at the heart of the story is brilliantly hidden.

5) There has always been speculation of a ‘friendly’ rivalry between Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Which of these two writers’ novels do you prefer and why?
Agatha Christie’s. Not all her books were good, but at her best she was unrivalled. I prefer the ‘ordinariness’ of her characters and settings to Sayers’ more ‘highbrow’ choices, which may explain why my favourite Sayers’ character is Montague Egg, the sales rep, and not her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey. Christie’s Miss Marple was a wonderfully original character - and thoroughly credible - which is why these stories continue to be adapted for TV and film, and remain popular today.

6) Who, in your eyes, is pushing the boundaries of crime fiction today – and why?
I’m pushing as hard as anyone. Some years ago an idiotic reviewer in the Sunday Times accused me of breaking the ‘rules’ of crime fiction, so I now take pleasure in doing it again and again. As far as I’m concerned, crime fiction is the one genre that should be entirely free of rules, and any author who thinks they exist is writing to a formula.

7) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
To Kill a Mocking Bird. Harper Lee’s novel ranks as one of the best books ever written – it centres on the trial of an innocent black man accused of the rape of a white woman in the American South - and Gregory Peck’s interpretation of the defence attorney, Atticus Finch, is the truest portrayal of a written character that I have ever seen. He won an Oscar for his performance, and Horton Foote won an Oscar for the best adaptation of ‘Material from another Medium’ for his screenplay.

8) Where do you see crime fiction going next?
I have no idea. That’s the beauty of the genre. It’s a tree with many branches. In the end, everyone writes a murder story because the ‘dark’ side of life is irresistible to authors. Perhaps Harry Potter will become the new Sherlock Holmes? Or, even better, the new Hannibal Lekter…!