Title: Fox Evil
Author: Minette Walters
Fox Evil is unusual in that, unlike her earlier books, the opening scenes barely hint at the plot and underlying mystery. This story unfolds slowly, giving the reader plenty of time to get to know the large cast of characters with all their warts, from the elderly colonel and his lawyer, Mark, to the army captain who likely is the granddaughter who'd been given up for adoption. There are the local gossips Prue and Eleanor and their apparently hapless husbands. And there's 10-year-old Wolfie, and the father, Fox Evil, who terrifies him.
The mystery revolves around squatters on a strip of disputed land in the town, tormenting phone calls to the colonel, and Fox's hidden agenda, set against a disputed fox hunt. It doesn't sound like much when the pieces are pulled apart like that, but Walters masterfully threads all the elements together, getting the principals nearly in one place for the threads to come together explosively.
And as a final treat, a character in her first novel, The Ice House, makes a cameo in this book via newspaper articles.
Along with the way Walters can keep me guessing, even if I figured out part of this one, her ability to create fully-developed, realistic characters I feel I've met in the flesh keeps me eager for more. I just hope she can keep up with my demand for more quality suspense tales.