Minette Walters, The Shape of Snakes (Putnam, 2001)
[originally posted 17Sep2001]
What does it say about a novel when there are errors in the text that any half-blind proofreader could have caught, but the novel is still good enough to demand being read in one sitting? Such is the case with Minette Walters’ eagerly-awaited seventh novel, The Shape of Snakes. It starts off rather like The Scold’s Bridle, with a not-much-loved member of the community dying a quite suspicious death and a woman who’d rather just be left alone getting drawn into figuring out who really did the deed. This time, Walters uses the convention to comment on the racism in the British justice system and how it’s changed over the past twenty years.
There are some inconsistencies in detail, which are usually a killer in a mystery novel, but Walters is a good enough writer that it doesn’t matter (and thankfully those particular details end up not coming back to haunt). Not as good as The Ice House or The Breaker, but still a very good read. ***