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

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Echo

TITLE: The Echo
AUTHOR: Minette Walters

It's a sad day. I have now read all the paperbacks I have by this author. I have to wait for her new one to come out in the US in paperback. I hope I don't go through withdrawal.

A woman asks a reporter to track the identity of a homeless man she found dead of starvation in her garage. Mike Deacon, the reporter, has his own problems: two ex-wives, a dysfunctional family situation, a love of alcohol, and a career in the toilet. Enthralled by the woman, Amanda Powell, he pursues the investigation and along the way, befriends a homeless teen, an elderly retired lawyer, and the odd photo expert at the newspaper he writes for. Soon, he comes to realize that the dead man, Billy, could be one of two missing men, both of whom had reasons to vanish. Billy was obsessed with redemption and in pursuing the truth of Billy's life, Mike finds redemption of his own.

But this story does not have the pat endings of some of Walters' books, where all the pieces fall into place. This one ends with some ambiguity, the way life tends to be. I love all her characters because they're so well-rounded and realistic, especially the truth seekers, but possibly Mike, at his irascible best, is my favorite even if the book isn't. (It's hard to choose a favorite book, but Acid Row, Fox Evil, and The Breaker are right up there.)

All the elements that make her books special are here: psychological intrigue, secrets, lies, deception, plot twists, indelible characters, literary writing. If you haven't read her, try one. I'll bet you won't be able to stop with just the one.