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The Breaker

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Twelve hours after a woman's broken body is washed up on a deserted shore on the south coast of England, her traumatised three-year-old daughter is discovered twenty miles away walking the streets of Poole, alone and apparently abandoned.Why was Kate Sumner killed and her daughter, a witness, allowed to live? More curiously, why had Kate willingly boarded a boat when she had a terror of drowning at sea?Police suspicion centres on a young actor, a loner with an obsession for pornography who lies about his relationship with Kate, and whose sailing boat is moored just yards away from where the toddler is found. As the investigation proceeds, attention shifts inexorably towards the murdered woman's husband. Was he really in Liverpool the night she died? And is Kate the 'respectable woman' he claims her to be? And why does their daughter scream every time he tries to pick her up?With her first five novels, Minette Walters has established herself as one of the most exciting crime fiction writers today. The Ice House (1991) was her debut mystery thriller, followed by The Sculptress (1993), The Scold's Bridle (1994), The Dark Room (1995) and The Echo (1997). The first three award-winning novels have been adapted for television by the BBC and have been screened in Australia and New Zealand. Television adaptations for both The Dark Room and The Echo will follow.
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About the Author

With her first four novels Minette has established herself as one of the most exciting crime fiction writers today. Two of her novels The Ice House and The Sculptress have been adapted as television dramas by the BBC, and this year The Scold's Bridle , starring Miranda Richardson, will be screened on the BAC. Minette lives in Hampshire with her husband and two children.


In her sixth novel, Walters (The Echo, LJ 3/1/97) grabs us from the opening sceneÄthe corpse of an attractive and pregnant woman is discovered washed ashore on the rocky Dorset coast in England. She has been drugged and sexually assaulted, her fingers deliberately broken, her body lashed to a dinghy to ensure her slow and painful death. What resident of the seaside village could be capable of such an atrocious crime? It's telling about the current state of English seaside villages that there are three prime suspects handy. Steven Harding, an actor whose most recent roles have been pornographic and who likes to sail, discovers the body. His friend Tony Bridges may have been jealous enough of Steven to try to shift blame for the murder onto him. And there is the victim's husband, who may have been pushed just far enough to murder his errant wife. Walters joins Ruth Rendell and P.D. James as the best current British purveyors of dark tales of psychological suspense. Her latest will be flying off bookstore and library shelves. For all public libraries. [BOMC selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/99.]ÄBob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Walters's novels (The Echo, 1997, etc.) depict complex, fallible people caught in intricate plots whose course and solution defy guesswork. Here, a woman's body washes up on the Dorset coast; then a toddler is found wandering alone in the nearby town of Poole. Initially, the investigation identifies two suspects, later a third, with both the police and the reader unable to establish definite means and opportunity, although all three suspects have motives. The dead woman, Kate SumnerÄwho had been raped and strangled, her fingers broken before she drownedÄwas chameleonlike: a greedy, malicious social climber, but an attentive wife and loving mother. Her husband may be a browbeaten yet adoring spouse, but his child fears him and his alibi is questionable. One suspect, Steven Harding, is a self-absorbed, sex-obsessed actor and a compulsive liar, but there's little evidence of his rumored affair with Kate. His friend Tony Bridges is a respected high school chemistry teacher with a heavy dope habit and a yen for his female students. The local constable, Nick Ingram, whose lack of ambition hides a probing mind and sharp insights into the human psyche, is immersed in the perplexing case. His investigation reacquaints him with stableyard owner Maggie Jenner, whose marriage to a confidence man shattered her family and its fortune, for which she unreasonably holds Nick responsible; Maggie and Nick's slow, witty courtship is one of the great pleasures of the novel. Each time the police develop a strong case against one suspect, the evidence shifts, pointing to another. Finally, a clever analysis of events and of human motivation leads them to the guilty party. This is psychological suspense at its best, engendered in a novel whose sinuous plot and enigmatic characters will captivate readers as surely as newfound love. (June)

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