Title: The Ice House
Author: Minette Walters
There is a lot of gray in this book, coincidences and things left unsaid until Walters wants the reader to know something, a style that also marked the other of her books I've read. Rather than feel manipulated, though I do sometimes get frustrated, this serves to keep me reading, to want to know just what was seen, heard, found. Her books are immensely readable, even if a few of the Britishisms sent me scurrying to an online dictionary.
But what keeps me enthralled is not the level of whodunit, though she's good at packing in surprises, but the depths of her characters. Their personalities, the things they hide from themselves and others, the assumptions they make about others based on their own biases move the story forward and make for compelling reading.
I've been reading a lot on litblogs and writer blogs lately about male vs female writers and I have to admit the authors I usually go back to are men. Barry Eisler. Michael Marshall (Smith). Bill Pronzini. Most of the science fiction writers I read. Yet, when I choose books based on reviews, I don't pay attention to the sex of the author. I pay attention to the plot, the overall review. I skim inside books by authors unknown to me to see if the style grabs me. That I end up reading more books by men than women has no hidden meaning. I've read some wonderful books by women writers in recent years and would love to read more by them. I even have a bunch waiting for me. Minette Walters is one who has jumped to the fore, though, because she knows her craft. She pulls no punches and her understanding of human nature infuses her writing. She builds suspense as well as anyone, and appeals directly to a reader's curiosity. And I'm never left feeling even a bit disappointed by anything, which I can't say for every mystery I read.
Gee, can you tell I like her books? :)