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

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Breaker

Title: The Breaker
Author: Minette Walters

My infatuation with Minette Walters continues. I spent New Year's Eve finishing this book, giving me 16 read in 2005. Not great, but not bad, for me.

This one keeps the suspense up and the reader guessing. By now, I'm used to her plot twists, so the problem isn't deciding who the killer is, but making up my mind because I could see how it could be any of 3 characters. That said, it all made sense, once she revealed the killer's identity. The confession, when it comes near the end, is without narration, without attribution of the speaker, but the surprise revelation isn't that much of a surprise, given the limited number of suspects.

What makes this book work is the back-and-forth narrative style. Three police investigators are working the case, interviewing suspects and following up on leads with witnesses, so there is no one overriding police pov. The book starts with the dying woman, then picks up with the discovery by two boys of her naked body on an isolated beach. Other characters converge on the scene or observe from a distance, and slowly, they're woven into the tale of secrets, where nothing is as it seems, where no one's view or report can be fully trusted. Walters writes in omniscient, choosing what to reveal and when from her characters pov and it works to great effect.

But as I've discovered about her books, there's more to read here than a mystery that needs solving. The characters are fully formed people slowly having their inner thoughts and feelings revealed as one layer after another is peeled back. And as always happens when I read her books, I find myself rooting for the detectives, and thinking of the characters as real. She can make a despicable character likeable in ways because no one is clearly one thing or another. A cad can be not only charming, but vulnerable. A hero can and does have warts that often blind him to what others are thinking or feeling, or perhaps, he sees that and doesn't care. Characters view each other through their own biases and otherwise behave as flesh and blood people.

That is ultimately what keeps drawing me back to her books. Along with her excellent, compelling prose, are groups of characters I enjoy spending time with. And for me, I can't think of a greater compliment.

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And a very Happy New Year to all of you. I'll have a new Booked by 3 meme up this week to get 2006 off to a fun start. :)