Slowly but surely, Minette Walters has been building up her reputation as one of the UK's most penetrating and distinctive purveyors of the psychological thriller. Disordered Minds
will add even more lustre to her name. Such books as Fox Evil
and Acid Row
demonstrated Walters' reluctance to repeat herself in terms of narrative, and her easy command of the various social groups in her novels (upper middle or council estate) is more sure than that of her colleagues and peers.
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
About the Author
DISORDERED MINDS is Minette Walters' tenth novel. She lives in Dorset with her husband and two children.