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.
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.
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.
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......
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.