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  1. Minette Walters made her name as a writer of tense, gory, often harrowing psychological thrillers. She must have felt that she'd written herself out because this is her first book for ten years and it's a sweeping historical saga in the style of Ken Follett. I say sweeping but in fact she's working on a small canvas; it's 1348 and Lady Anne of the manor of Devilish in Dorset hears of a strange and devestating pestilence sweeping the countryside and orders all her serfs within the walls to sit out out the spread of the disease. Needess to say conflicts start developing among the 200 souls who are confined closely together. This is a bit of a curates egg of a book. It is full of wild anachronisms- Lady Anne is incredibly well educated and has a grasp of how infection is spread that many people didn't have in the 19th century, her ideas on equlity, the poor improving their lot, high birth not necessarilymeaning that you have an automatic right to the service of others, consideration to your servants, sexual abuse and the right of women not to sleep with their husbands are very 21st century and definitely not medieval. Some of the charecters come straight out of central casting too; the spoilt daughter of the house, the noble base born steward, the quiet little woman who is so much cleverer than anyone notices. But for me the good bits outweigh the clunky stuff completely (I'm a historian's grandaughter and normally I can't stand that sort of stuff.) Minette Walters is very good indeed at creating atmosphereand a sense of place. Her descriptions of the confinement where no-one knows how the disease is spreading, if there is anyone left alive is compêlling as is the ways she describes the life of the serf. There is a long part near the end of the book where the base born steward and five youths go out to search for supplies, none of them have ever been outside the boundaries of the manor lands before, have ever seen a differnt style of house or as it turns out, a cat.The world; the one very small corner of Dorset they visit, is bigger, more exciting and infinitely more frightening than any of them imagine. All in all this was a very good read. However, be warned it's part of a series and ends very abruptly.
  2. WOW! What a wonderful feeling to start the new year with a terrific psychological thriller from Minette Walters. She presents two parallel stories: several older men are found murdered and the only thread connecting them is their homosexuality, that they live alone and may be former soldiers. The predominant plot circles around Lt. Charles Acland an Iraqi vet who is devastatingly injured in an ambush explosion that killed his men. Half of his face is burned off including his eye. But when he comes out of his coma he also has a new personality. I don't want to give away anymore, except to say that I gave this **** which is very high on my rating scale. The book will be in stores in the US in Jan. 9 ENJOY GERBAM
  3. RRP: £17.99, <a href ="http://www.thebookplace.com/bookplace/spring2005.asp?CID=BGO733" TARGET="_blank">The Book Pl@ce</a> Price: £17.99 Just click on book jacket <A HREF="http://www.thebookplace.com/bookplace/display.asp?ISB=1405050985&CID=BGO733" TARGET="_blank"> <IMG SRC=""></A> Have you ever wanted to bury a secret so deeply that no one will find out about it? With private security firms supplying bodyguards in every theatre of war, who will notice the emergence of a sexual psychopath from the ranks of the mercenaries? Amidst the turmoil of Sierra Leone's vicious civil war, the brutal murder of five women is of little consequence and no one questions the 'confessions' that were beaten out of three child soldiers. Except for Reuters correspondent Connie Burns. After witnessing a savage attack on a prostitute, Connie believes a foreigner's responsible. She has seen him before, and she suspects he uses the chaos of war to act out sadistic fantasies against women. Two years later in Iraq, the consequences of her second attempt to expose him are devastating. Terrified, degraded and destroyed, she goes into hiding in England where she strikes up a friendship with Jess Derbyshire, a loner whose reclusive nature may well be masking secrets of her own. Seeing parallels between herself and Jess, Connie borrows from the other woman's strength and makes the hazardous decision to attempt a third unmasking of a serial killer ...Knowing he will come looking for her ...
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