The echo

by Minette Walters

Paper Book, 1997




London : Macmillan, 1997.


In this hypnotic novel of psychological suspense, a homeless man is found starved to death in the garage of a ritzy London home. The police chalk it up to an unfortunate accident, but a journalist, Michael Deacon, is intrigued. Amanda Powell, a socialite whose wealthy husband vanished five years ago after being accused of embezzlement, is just as interested as Michael in finding out who died in her garage. They have no idea that this simple story will unveil a web of deceit that is an appalling as the people behind it.

User reviews

LibraryThing member DanStratton
I picked this English Mystery by chance at the library while browsing the science fiction section. It was obviously misshelved. It isn't the kind of novel I normally read, but I was in a rush and the premise intrigued me. A homeless man starves to death in a upper middle class woman's garage, right next to a freeze and a shelf full of food. Who is he and why did he choose this woman's garage in which to die? A reporter with plenty of problems of his own seeks to discover the identity and link. It isn't much of a mystery, but it is an interesting social commentary on homelessness and relationships. Ms. Walters' characters are rich and ordinary. The problems they struggle with are the same ones the rest of us do. It really made me contemplate the conversations I have with my extended family. Do I really say what I want to say or do I hide my real feelings in useless drivel, keeping the truth from the light of day? Ms. Walters shows how hiding those feelings can cause so much damage over the years. It can be nice to have an intermediary like the main character finds between him and his mother.

Well, I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone, but it is an interesting read under the right circumstances. I learned more about me in this book than I thought I would. That is why it gets three stars. Otherwise, it probably would have been only one.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
This was interesting but so convoluted that it was hard to keep straight at times. Mixed in with the regular story telling were bits of news articles, book excerpts and faxes that filled in most of the backstory. In the end, Billy was really another man who had suddenly disappeared and was feared dead. His connection to Amanda’s husband was only the fact that they were both mysteriously gone. How exactly, he ended up as a homeless schizophrenic isn’t really clear. He chose Amanda’s garage to die in because he saw her murder James and put his body in the river. He felt that he could take on her sin and pay her price. In the end, it’s insinuated that his wife committed suicide because she found out that he killed her first husband. Her first husband had raped her when she was 13 and got her pregnant. For some twisted reason, she later married the guy and when she was killed she took up with Paul. Paul was much younger than her and was her son. But I don’t think he knew that he was her son. That would explain why he went nuts if he had.… (more)
LibraryThing member ShellyS
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.
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LibraryThing member Romonko
Minette Walters takes on the Oedipus question with this book. I found it a haunting story that I couldn't seem to put down once I began. I love the characters in this story! I loved the plot, and I loved the idea. Ms. Walters combines the past and present-day in a truly compelling way. This is one of those books that stays with you long after you close the covers. The book examines betrayal and murder so closely that it's almost uncomfortable because Ms. Walter puts her readers right there in the middle of the action. Ms. Walters examines closely the lives of people who live on the streets, and points out the various personalities and the power struggles that occur within that environment. She then juxtapositions that with the lives of the elite when she has a derelict homeless man die in the garage of a wealthy society woman. And why did Billy Blake's story consume the lives of so many peeople as they try to determine who he was and why he let himself starve to death in this garage? You have to read to find out, and to unravel the many convolutions in his story.… (more)
LibraryThing member Squeex
The first part of the story was a little bit tangled up for me, the end of the story was a little bit tangled up for me, but the middle part was superb and made up for the tangles on either end.
You have to like British dark suspense with all that that entails of everything having hidden meaning and no one is who they appear to be at any given time. I know I love watching these on BBC America, with all of the visual cues and atmosphere.
My sister's been on me to read Minette's books, so this was the way I chose to do the first one. I'll read more and listen to more.
Four British atmospheric suspenseful beans......
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LibraryThing member ijustgetbored
I usually like Minette Walters, but this one did not sit well. What follows does not address any specific plot points, but it does concern general themes in the book: in other words, potential spoilers.

The characterization in this novel was sometimes trite (Terry), sometimes uninteresting (Dalton), and often vaguely offensive (all the women). Be reminded that an author of any character can write something that's misogynistic, and that is what I sensed, over and over, in this extremely convoluted novel.

The Oedipus complex themes probably don't need discussing: we all know the problems with that, right? It's alive and well in this book, though. Amid frequent discussions of the "red-blooded male" (a recurring phrase) are some very nasty portraits of women. Much is made of women "[screaming] rape" when a rape has not occurred, and there is a tremendously unpleasant insinuation that women claim to be raped when they were not, as a way of exacting leverage over men. Deacon, the protagonist, asserts that "Most women dial nine-nine-nine the minute their attacker walks out the door" (p. 311). Deacon is purportedly a journalist, so there's not much of an excuse for this patently false statement: most rapes are unreported. Women are also depicted as buyable (to be silenced). The upshot: women will find a way to benefit, materially or otherwise, from rape.

The novel itself is one of Walters' weaker efforts; it's convoluted and full of loose ends. The ongoing insinuations sink it, though.
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LibraryThing member mengenstrom
Very booooring.
LibraryThing member baswood
The unravelling of the story is the best part of this book. it is a mystery story rather than a crime thriller. However I found the characterisation unconvincing especially Terry Dalton who at times descends to comic book level. The newspaper story at the end of the book that attempts to tie up loose ends and offer some possible explanations to the actions of some of the characters sounds me. This mystery novel that has psychological and literary pretensions does not work for me… (more)
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