Minette Walters Analysis


(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.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Dubose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Contains essays combining biography and literary criticism of female writers, including Walters. The article on Walters offers biography and background along with an analysis of a number of Walters’s themes and some critical reactions to her work.

Forselius, Tilda Maria. “The Impenetrable M and the Mysteries of Narration: Narrative in Minette Walters’s The Shape of Snakes.” Clues: A Journal of Detection 24, no. 2 (Winter, 2006): 47-61. Scholarly article focusing on problems of memory, justice, and truth in The Shape of Snakes. Also discusses the narrative complexity of the novel and the ambiguous motivation of the narrator.

James, Dean. “Interview with Minette Walters.” In Deadly Women: The Woman Mystery Reader’s Indispensable Companion, edited by Jan Grape, Dean James, and Ellen Nehr. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998. Covers many female mystery authors and a wide cross section of styles and genres. Includes Louisa May Alcott, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, P. D. James, Donna Leon, and Patricia Cornwell. The format is wide-ranging and accessible but not in-depth. The engaging interview with Walters reveals her influences and interests.

Lebihan, Jill. “Tearing the Heart Out of Secrets: Inside and Outside a Murder Mystery.” Journal of Gender Studies 10, no. 3 (November, 2001): 287-295. This scholarly article presents a psychoanalytical and feminist analysis of The Ice House as an example of the narrative process of identification in the murder mystery. Lebihan’s thesis is based on the premise that the male police detectives cannot solve the murder because they cannot identify with a female killer and her secrets.

Muller, Adrian. “Minette Walters.” In Speaking of Murder: Interviews with the Masters of Mystery and Suspense, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 1998. A two-volume set of entertaining and enlightening interviews with a wide range of mystery writers. The well-written profile of Walters discusses themes and settings of her novels.

Walters, Minette. Minette Walters Official Website. http://www.minettewalters.co.uk. Comprehensive and up-to-date information on Walters and her work, including a biography, news, profiles, video clips, and an interactive question-and-answer page. An excellent resource.