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by Minette Walters
Jove, August 2000
362 pages
ISBN: 0515128821

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Trust Minette Walters to come up a fresh approach to crime fiction that tears the envelope. This novel comes with photographs of the crime scene, charts and a map of the surrounding community, as well as an unlabeled foreword, a prologue and some clues. Whether the clues are real or not requires reading the book. There are internal graphics as well, including the reproduction of faxes and other documents integral to the police investigation, a technique Ms. Walters has used before.

The novel begins with the finding of a nude female at a remote beach on the English Channel. The two finders are young, pre-teen boys, come to the cliffs over Chapman's Pool, a favorite anchorage for the leisure boating community. The boys have brought binoculars, the better to ogle the bikini-clad girls on the boats. The communities close by are Bournemouth and Poole, destinations of more than a few summer vacationers.

An arrogant, self-assured young actor named is there at the same time, just walking the cliffs, he says, but there are discrepancies in his story. In fact, as the police investigation widens, discrepancies and lies appear in most of the stories told to the police by almost everyone they encounter. There are, it begins to appear, dark and shameful secrets in the lives of most people. Not all of them are acknowledged, especially by those who most closely hold some of those secrets. Other secrets, of which the less said the better, are flaunted in surprising places.

This is a strongly written, study novel, massively complex, gritty, explicit, though not in a prurient way. It deals with some off-beat aspects of human sexuality and some inexplicable aspects of the human mind in an even-toned, matter-of-fact manner. It is full of misdirection. It has tension, pace, fine writing, interesting characters. The novel is an international best seller. That's easy to understand. It is not a cozy. It is not light reading. The Breaker is a powerful, moving, novel.

Note: This review is based on the out of print hardcover edition.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, July 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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