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

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Dark Room

Title: The Dark Room
Author: Minette Walters

I feel as if I'm repeating myself when reviewing Ms. Walters's books. I've come to recognize patterns in her mysteries. Characters who first look like the killer rarely are the guilty ones, but sometimes.... One of her strong points is keeping the reader off balance, creating doubt, and making almost any scenario seem plausible.

Jinx, a woman from a wealthy family, wakes up from a coma after a supposed suicide attempt following her jilting by her fiance shortly before their scheduled wedding so he could marry her best friend. Both the fiance and best friend are missing, and are, of course, found dead soon after.

Did Jinks kill them, then try to kill herself? Or is she being truthful when she claims she was relieved by the breakup and would never attempt suicide? Why should anyone believe her when she claims to have amnesia covering the previous two weeks, a convenience and coincidence the police don't believe?

Jinx lost her husband 10 years before, to a killer whose MO is frighteningly similar to the bludgeoning of the two recent victims. Could her father, rumored to have been a gangster before going legit, be involved? What about her two arrogant and self-centered half-brothers?

I must admit that for once I had suspicions about the character who was guilty of the crime before it was revealed, but I also had a couple of other possible resolutions in mind, too. Still, I feel I'm getting better at sussing out her methodology, but I hope I never get too good. I love being fooled. But every clue is there, nothing, no detail is missed or forgotten. All the pieces fit, perhaps too well, but realistically. And, always, the characters ring true, real enough they could walk off the page.

I think I have 2 more to go before I'll need the latest in pb, but I decided to give other writers a chance. I'd love to find another author who can play me the way Minette Walters can.