The Devil’s Feather

The Devil’s Feather by Minette Walters
Like virtually every other right-minded lover of crime fiction I’m a fan of Minette Walters, but until recently The Devil’s Feather had escaped my attention. In the Devil’s Feather Walters goes global in a tale that transports us from war ravaged Sierra Leone via post-Saddam Iraq to deepest Dorset.

Journalist Connie Burns is working in Sierra Leone when her suspicions are aroused that the perpetrators of a series of rapes and murders are not, as the authorities claim, three young rebel soldiers but the British bodyguard of a diamond trader. When she encounters the same man in Iraq two years later using another name and attempts to expose him he takes a brutal and harrowing revenge that leaves her terrified and psychologically crushed.

Retreating to the refuge of a dilapidated Dorset farmhouse she befriends the solitary and misunderstood Jess Derbyshire, a strong-minded young woman who, like Connie, has secrets she’s not willing to reveal. Taking her inspiration from her new friend she refuses to be cowed by her experience. But what starts as a long-distance pursuit of her tormentor ends terrifyingly close to home and draws the two women together to share one last secret.

So what makes Walters so good at what she does? Well no-one could accuse her of writing ‘cosy’ crime. This is a book that faces up to real issues while managing to avoid the trap of preaching to the reader. And one of the things I most admire about her is her ability to draw convincing characters in her depictions of modern rural Britain without resorting to stereotype: a skill that is very evident in this book. But I’m an old fashioned girl at heart and the thing I enjoy most in my crime fiction reading is the challenge of solving a well constructed mystery and that Walters’ plots never fail to deliver.

It’s difficult to become bored with Walters’ books. She famously doesn’t use series characters, writing each book as a stand-alone. I’ll certainly be adding her other titles that I haven’t read to my ‘To Read’ list And if you missed out on The Devil’s Feather when it was first published don’t leave it too long…

I’m currently reading an Ian Rankin Rebus omnibus…bit of a mistake really, no not the content but the weight of a three-novels-in-one book. Not easy bed-time reading – heavy weight!