Synopses & Reviews
The Edgar Award-winning, bestselling author hailed by The Washington Post Book World as "a master of the macabre who imbues her novels with an intensely eerie atmosphere" weaves an astonishing tale of mystery, intrigue, and revenge.
In just seven years, Minette Walters has burst from the ranks of mystery writers to become a bestselling author the world over and today's preeminent practitioner of psychological suspense. With constant comparisons to P. D. James and Ruth Rendell and a growing American audience, Walters is poised for breakout success with The Shape of Snakes, her finest, and most finely wrought, novel yet.
November 1978. The winter of discontent. Britain is on strike. The dead lie unburied, garbage piles in the streets-and somewhere in West London a black woman dies in a rain-filled gutter. Known as "Mad Annie," she was despised by her neighbors.
Her passing would have gone unmourned and unnoticed but for the young woman who finds her and who believes-apparently against reason-that Annie was murdered.
But whatever the truth about Annie-whether she was as mad as her neighbors claimed, whether she lived in squalor as the police said, whether she cruelly mistreated the cats found starving in her house-something passed between her and Mrs. Ranelagh in the moment of death that binds this one woman to her cause for the next twenty years.
But why is Mrs. Ranelagh so convinced it was murder, when, by her own account, Annie died without speaking? Why does the subject make her husband so angry that he refuses to talk about what happened that night? And why would any woman spend twenty painstaking years uncovering the truth-unless her reasons are personal?
"This is a bold psychological thriller that practically revels in unpleasant, unsettling themes, and yet it is almost impossible to put down....Walters succeeds where many a literary novelist has failed by grounding her complex rumination on the nature of contemporary society within the structure of a gripping crime novel." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
"Agatha Christie with the gloves off: a slow-motion train wreck of a novel that not only confirms Walters's kinship with P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, but displays a ferocity far beyond any of their recent work." Kirkus Reviews
This "New York Times" Notable Book begins on a rainy winter night. It takes hours for a black woman known as "Mad Annie" to die in the gutter. It will take 20 years for the woman who found her to shape her neighbors' racism, the indifference of the police, and her own rage into the truth.
"[Mrs.] Ranelagh is convinced one of her neighbors on Garden Street is guilty of murder. Was it racism or greed that drove one of them to leave poor Mad Annie Butts for dead in the gutter? Her compulsion to solve this case is to magnetic that you are there with her every step of the way."--Sheri Kraft, Alibi Books, Glenview, Ill.
It took a few hours on a rainy winter night for a black woman known as "Mad Annie" to die in a gutter. It will take twenty years for the woman who found her to shape her neighbors' racism, the indifference of the police, and her own rage into the truth.
"Harrowing...These complex characters can be cunning, deceitful, even mad-which is exactly what makes them such absorbing company." (New York Times Book Review)
"Builds tension masterfully." (The Wall Street Journal)
About the Author
Minette Walters is the author of six previous novels. Her work has been translated into thirty-two languages and has been adapted for television.