Walters' bag of literary tricks has served her, and her many readers, well for many years.
Disordered Minds by Minette Walters - FictionDB
Her stories center around characters who are social outcasts, misfits who are psychologically and often physically scarred by abuse. She has ably created some memorably disturbed and uniquely offbeat characters -- Olive Martin, the obese imprisoned ax murderess in 'The Sculptress'; the lesbian "witches" in 'Ice House'; Mad Annie the elderly black woman with Tourette's Syndrome in 'The Shape of Snakes'.
Uncovering the truth behind the murder or multiple murders in each of her books leads to the exposure of the seamier and squalid activities that live just below the social surface -- alcoholism, incest, pedophilia, rape, abortion, pornography and drugs. Walters' themes are grim and real, her eye for social inequity strong and unyielding.
Walters is equally adept at writing from a "procedural" or "amateur sleuth" perspective with protagonists that are either British police or normal, everyday people, frequently writers or physicians, caught up in a disturbing series of events. With her complex and convoluted plots, Walters smoothly mixes the prerequisite red herrings with meaningful clues in a trail of crumbs that snakes, zigzags, and veers through layer after layer of deception and misdirection.
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Readers who relish solving the puzzle are given a fair chance, while those who don't care to figure out whodunit on their own are amply rewarded with a satisfying, if complicated conclusion. Walters' books have consistently been overpopulated with scores of characters.
Some stay to play a part in the action, some circle around the primary action but make no contribution to either the conclusion or the depth of the narrative, and others, well, they simply disappear. The digital Loeb Classical Library loebclassics.
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Alien Landscapes? Interpreting Disordered Minds Jonathan Glover.
Daniel Schwartz, author of Ghetto: The History of a Word , wrote at Time about the use of the term to describe heavily segregated urban areas in the United States ; Literary Hub published an excerpt from the book. Walters has tended to specialise in people who feel unhappy in their skin the title character in The Sculptress was an obese female serial killer.
In this book, Howard had an untreated harelip, George is disfigured by cancer treatment and Jonathan is confused about his racial identity. This foregrounding of the physical extends to a talent for body-language: Walters notes the beginnings of a nervous tic or the way that lovers mirror each others' mannerisms.
Her main drive, though, is psychological.
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Differing from her elders in the genre, such as PD James and Ruth Rendell, in never having created a series detective, she creates stand-alone mysteries which examine memory and motive. As before, Walters demonstrates a knack for these damaged characters and great skill in the mechanics of suspense.
In a novel that uses real prime ministers and dead weapons experts as background, an obvious question arises: is it possible to invent a fictional murder case with the twists and evidential complexities of, say, a Soham? If real politics is now so pressing that it must feature in fiction, is it possible that the genre of fictional killings can no longer compete with true crime? The answer is that crime fiction still works because it spares us the unease we inevitably feel when reading about real corpses in newspaper court reports.