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Minette Walters

My newest favorite author of English mystery/crime fiction is Minette Walters. She writes psychological suspense stories that keep reader guessing until the last page. But I realize she is not as prolific as the others in this genre, where writers are encouraged to published once or even twice a year. Her work reminds me of Ruth Rendell, and indeed, upon a glance of the oeuvre, reveals the concern of wiring and misfiring of psyche. Crime novels cal also provoke repulsion, especially in the depiction of violence against women, like in The Scold’s Bridle. A scold’s bridle in the middle ages was a metal muzzle straddled in woman’s head in order curb her nagging tongue. The opening scene finds the victim murdered in the bathtub wearing a scold’s bridle.

Her insight into psyches is aided by having been a weekly prison visitor for a long period. She became fascinated by judicial punishment after researching her great-great-great grandfather, Joshua Jebb, who was Britain’s surveyor general of prisons in the mid-19th century. Walters never used her visits as research, but the encounters clearly provided a remarkable insight into criminals’ thinking and speech. That said, her books are dark and female-oriented. A writer who continues the line of Christie, Dorothy Sayers, P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, Walters thinks that most women are amateur psychiatrists, and thus the phenomenon that English crime fiction is mostly female-led.

4 Responses

  1. Oh, now I’m curious. I must check her out…not only that my Aunt is name Minette!

  2. She is absolutely brilliant! Definitely read more by her!
    She once did a programme for the BBC, I believe it was called ‘Scribbling’ in which they followed her for a year in writing a book. (Shape of Snakes). It was a very interesting documentary. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find in on the net anywhere, but maybe your research skills are better than mine and you will be able to find them. It was a programme broadcast in the late 90s.

    Happy holidays!
    Fleur

  3. Hi Fleur! I finished The Scold’s Bridle and I’m addicted to her. Yes, i don’t have any luck locating new copies of her books, but I do find some used ones at the local bookstore. I like her literary prose and atmosphere of her mysteries. They are no cookie cutter and she really gives you the backgrounds of the characters.

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