(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Minette Walters’s psychological thrillers have been compared with those of Agatha Christie, P. D. James, and Ruth Rendell, placing her in the tradition of the English crime novel. Walters is not a series mystery writer; each book stands alone and her novels can be read in any order. Her literary work combines elements of the first-person hard-boiled detective style, the gothic mystery, the feminist desire for strong female characters in the detective tradition, and the epistolary novel. Her novels are character driven, with an emphasis on the character of the victim as well as of the murder suspects and investigator. Motives become more complex as characters’ backgrounds are slowly revealed. Readers are kept guessing as the multiple possibilities of who murdered the victim and why emerge through plot twists until the last pages. Walters has been called a master of ambiguity; the motives of the characters are never simple or predictable, and sometimes questions remain even after the end of the book. The dark side of human nature is explored through Walters’s characters and plots; readers are uncomfortably aware that murder can be a possible solution to an array of situations. The literary quality of Walters’s work has been recognized by a remarkable number of awards in the United States and Great Britain, including the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award for Fox Evil (2002) in 2003, and the number of best sellers she has written evidences the appeal of her work to readers.