"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Scold's Bridle

Title: The Scold's Bridle
Author: Minette Walters

One of Walter's earlier books, this isn't quite as intricately plotted and the prose not quite as rich as her other, later books I've read (Acid Row and The Shape of Snakes), but still, it's a solid mystery well told.

Matilda Gillespie was an old, spiteful, and wealthy woman with a lot of secrets. When she's found dead in her bathtub with slit wrists, the first thought is suicide. But as we've come to expect from mysteries, too many loose ends lead the police to suspect murder. And one of the chief suspects is her doctor, a woman who inherits Matilda's entire fortune. Other suspects include her estranged daughter and her teenaged granddaughter, each more spiteful than the other.

Interspersed with the story as pages from Matilda's diary, and as the police find more suspects based on their investigation, the reader will be privy to many of Matilda's dark secrets, one of which holds the key to her murder.

As with other of Walters' books, this isn't just about the victim, but about the doctor and her philandering, artist husband, about the granddaughter and the despicable man she'd fallen in with, and about trust and honesty, and, of course, the secrets everyone harbors, some more hateful or damaging than others, but all of which affect the course of a person's behavior. And that for me is the best kind of mystery, the one that isn't just about whodunit.