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by Minette Walters
Macmillan, September 2005
416 pages
ISBN: 1405050985

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Connie Burns is a Reuters correspondent covering many of the world's warzones, including Sierra Leone and Iraq. But her path keeps crossing that of a deeply unpleasant Scottish mercenary who, she believes, is responsible for the murder of at least five women.

Connie's efforts to uncover the truth have a horrific and devastating effect on her, though, and she retreats to a remote cottage in the English countryside to try to rebuild her life. Within minutes of arriving, she meets the bizarre Jess Derbyshire, a loner sorely lacking in social graces.

But she and Connie build up a kind of friendship and it's Jess who's alongside her as she attempts for a third time to unmask the serial killer.

Summarising the plot of THE DEVIL'S FEATHER is slightly tricky in that it doesn't do justice to what is a very fine suspense novel. Minette Walters has a raft of standalones behind her, many of which deal with damaged women and are set in English villages with all the weirdness and backbiting of rural life. She has an eye, too, for newspaper stories on which to build her books.

In fact, the more I think about it, the slighter the plot is. But it doesn't matter a damn, simply because of the quality of Walters' writing. I was absolutely hooked, and found these were that characters I wanted to know more about. Naturally, in Walters' tangled world, nothing is as simple as it seems.

Whilst Connie herself is a character with depth, I found myself equally interested in Jess. She was orphaned in her teens, now runs the family farm and turns out to have a number of talents -- as well as being a good woman to have next to you in a crisis. The two women and village doctor Peter form an intriguing triangle.

Walters' strength is her pacing and structure -- she doles out sufficient info to keep the reader hooked, but leaving you desperate for more. THE DEVIL'S FEATHER is a book destined to remain in your mind for a long time after you've closed it and set it aside.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, September 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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