31 October, 2013

Book Review: The Shape of Snakes

From Goodreads: Mrs. Ranelagh has never stopped thinking about the dead body she found in the gutter twenty years ago, during Britain’s Winter of Discontent. “Mad Annie,” as she was known, was the only black resident of her West London neighborhood and openly despised by the community. The police called her death an accident, but Mrs. Ranelagh has always suspected it was murder. However, her pleas for an investigation were met with a vicious hate campaign that drove her and her husband from the country. Now, determined to uncover the truth, Mrs. Ranelagh has returned to England, where she quickly discovers a sordid trail of domestic violence, racism and adultery that shockingly could lead back to her own family.

Thoughts: Once again Minette Walters writes a fantastic book that simply keeps you turning the pages.I truly believe she is one of, if not the best crime writer around.
In this, M (you never find out her first name, just M or Mrs Ranelagh) is trying to prove that "Mad Annie", a black woman who suffered from Tourettes, was murdered 20 years ago and not killed by an accident as claimed.
Walters leads us through many twists and turns as M does what the police didn't - unravel the stories of those in the street - many who did not like having a black woman in their neighbourhood.
Walters uses a lot of characters - some of which are red herrings, others that play a larger role than you first imagine. The plethora of characters can be confusing, but as the net narrows on the guilty, there are less to deal with. None of the characters are perfect - in fact none of them are even truly likable, even M, whose motives you find yourself questioning. In fact, frequently throughout the book I questioned her mental stability and wondered what she was really looking for. In the end the mystery is solved, but the outcome is not necessarily satisfactory. A really good read.