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

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Devil's Feather

TITLE: The Devil's Feather
AUTHOR: Minette Walters

Yup, I finally finished another book. Blogging has really cut into my reading time.

This is a bit different than the usual Minette Walters book, not that they're all similar, but this one, at its heart, is not a mystery. The narrator knows what happened and she's revealing it damn slowly. The suspense comes from... but, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Connie Burns is a war correspondent. During her posting in Sierra Leone, she became convinced that a British mercenary is the man who raped and killed five women. Her efforts to prove it go nowhere, but two years later, when she sees him in Iraq, training local police, and using a different name, she resumes her pursuit of justice for his victims. Until she's kidnapped, presumably by one of the Iraqi terror groups. Upon her release, she claims she has no idea who her abductors were, then returns to England, where she retreats to a rural town and a rental house that's fairly isolated. But along with her demons, and her fears, she has to contend with a local doctor, and Jess, a neighboring woman lacking in social skills, but someone who isn't afraid to speak her mind. As Connie, living there under an assumed name, gets to know Jess, she gets drawn into the lives of Jess, the daughter of the elderly woman whose house she's renting, and the odd events that led to the elderly homeowner being placed in a nursing home. But this mystery, while compelling, is more a device to help draw Connie out of herself. If only her demons would let her. Because he's still out there, a threat to her parents, and to Connie, herself, unless she can find the will to fight back.

Walters excels at psychological suspense. Her weaving in real events in Iraq gives this book a special sense of urgency, placing it more in the real world than most of her others. And yet, I can't consider this a mystery. It's simply a literary tour de force by one of my favorite authors.