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

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Tinder Box

TITLE: The Tinder Box
AUTHOR: Minette Walters

I can't remember when I last read a novella. Maybe never. I usually don't like short stories or even novella length tales because they're too short for me to sink my mental teeth into, but I was desperate for more of Ms. Walters' books to read and got this from Amazon.

I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as her novels. In a way, it reads like a treatment, maybe a detailed summary, of a book to be written. As she has in many of her books, Walters deals with prejudice here, in this case of the English toward the Irish. An Irishman is accused of killing an elderly English neighbor and her nurse and another neighbor, an Irishwoman, doesn't believe he did the deed. As is true of her books, nothing is quite as it seems, with the truth slowly being revealed in fits and starts. But there's not enough time to develop the plot twists to full satisfaction or to throw sufficient red herrings at the reader for a truly suspenseful tale.

Still, Walters demonstrates her deftness in character development here, quickly establishing the people in the small community as individuals and makes her point re: how easily prejudices can lead to snap judgments, mistakes, even violence and hate. A nice, quick read.