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

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Sculptress

Title: The Sculptress
Author: Minette Walters

A confession. A killer in prison for 6 years and counting. An obese woman, a compulsive eater who makes clay and wax statues, feared by the guards because of her bulk and her conviction for the brutal murder and dismemberment of her mother and sister. But did she commit the crime. The corroborating evidence supported her confession, but Roz Leigh, a writer mourning her lost child, assigned to write about Olive Martin, isn't sure after talking to her that Olive butchered her mother and sister. In spite of her initial fear and replusion for Olive, she finds herself liking her. And slowly, inconsistencies emerge.

Olive is a manipulator, Roz is warned. She lies. She intimidates. But Roz isn't convinced of Olive's guilt and so begins her quest to find the truth, a truth she comes to believe will set Olive free, even if everyone tells her Olive is too dangerous to be free.

As with other of Walters' books, this is more Roz's story than Olive's, for in pursuing justice for Olive, Roz slowly comes back to life, finding there is more to living than merely existing, and even after losing a daughter, life can go on. There is definitely a creepy feel to this one and few possible suspects, but the family secrets that emerge give the story weight. I wasn't shocked or surprised by some of the revelations and sometimes it was a matter of which of my guesses would be right, not if.

Definitely worth reading, for the atmosphere and characters as much as for the mystery, and the hint of ambiguity in the telling just raises this early book by the author a level above the efforts by many other writers in the genre.

I've got 2 more to go, then I'll need more books by Minette Walters. I hope she's writing fast.