A dark, gripping tale of solitude and evil from the No. 1 Bestseller
Disordered Minds builds on her rich mélange of gifts and continues to strip-mine darker areas of the human psyche than most contemporary novelists--literary or otherwise--are keen to tackle. It's the 1970s: a man dies in prison after a controversial conviction for killing his grandmother. Howard Stamp, an educationally subnormal young man, takes his own life, and the case generates movements claiming Stamp's innocence. Anthropologist Jonathan Hughes digs deeper than the police had originally done, and when Jonathan's path crosses that of the elderly George Gardener, long an advocate of the hapless Stamp's innocence, Gardener co-opts Jonathan in an attempt to clear the dead man's name. But there are some frightening consequences, such as the fact that the real killer will not like being put in the frame again.
As always, Walters is interested in far more than the simple mechanics of crime-novel plotting: Despite their differences, Jonathan Hughes finds that the backward Stamp is still something of a doppelganger of himself, mirroring his own disturbed childhood and sense of alienation, while the background of a pending conflict in Iraq throws the personal dramas sharply into relief. This is Walters at her disturbing best. --Barry Forshaw
I did enjoy the book and I did pursue it to the end and, certainly, I will eagerly await any future offerings from Ms Walters. However, I believe this was a flawed novel and perhaps not one which would make a new reader to Walters want to pursue any of her past fantastic offerings, such as The Shape of Snakes, The Sculptress, Acid Row etc... etc...
So what was the problem? I think it's twofold. Firstly, the character of Dr Hughes, who initially poses the idea that Howard Stamp was wrongly convicted of his grandmother's murder in 1970, seems to become far too great a focus in the early part of the book. Following this initial over-emphasis which takes the reader far too far away from the actual plotline, without adding sufficiently to it, Hughes is then suddenly sidelined in favour of telling the story from other viewpoints. It further emasculates an already self-emasculating character and makes his very presence rather irritating. (And personally, I do hate it when authors introduce a new character at the 11th hour because they can't think of any other way to tie up loose ends: the arrival of private detective Sasha Spencer is just too convenient a tool for my taste!)
Secondly, whilst I normally love the way Walters makes her readers weave through an intensely complex plot, I think this one went too far. Lies are told to cover up injustices.Read more ›
The dimension that the author usually puts around the characters seems to be lacking from this one, making it hard to become involved with the story and to get involved with the characters.
I am sad to say that although a big (in past) fan of Walter’s, my only sense of urgency in finishing this book was so that I could move swiftly onto something else.