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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
While I agree with some of the other reviews that this is not Walters' best book, I still couldn't put it down once I'd started reading. What spoilt it for me was that I'd read a newspaper review where the idiotic critic decided that we readers needed to know who didn't do it, hence making it pretty obvious to me who had.
Other than that, the book still held enough...
Published on 13 Nov 2007 by Mastikate

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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Still the queen of the gripping psychodrama, but this one is bad
Minette Walters' novels The Sculptress and The Shape of Snakes were crime classics. In this novel, Walters proves she can still grab readers by the scruff of the neck and make them turn the pages until the end. I couldn't put this book down. However...this was one that ultimately disappointed me, as was her last, The Devil's Feather. All the characters use the same...
Published on 18 Oct 2007 by Cando


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Still the queen of the gripping psychodrama, but this one is bad, 18 Oct 2007
By 
Cando (Manchester National Express Coach Station) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Hardcover)
Minette Walters' novels The Sculptress and The Shape of Snakes were crime classics. In this novel, Walters proves she can still grab readers by the scruff of the neck and make them turn the pages until the end. I couldn't put this book down. However...this was one that ultimately disappointed me, as was her last, The Devil's Feather. All the characters use the same vocabulary/diction. They all say 'PDQ' (pretty damn quick') rather a lot. The young squaddie in his early twenties talks nothing like any young man would talk, let alone a soldier. As in all Walters' novels, there is a gruff character who turns out to have a heart of gold. The solution to the mystery is utterly ludicrous - what the villain does, why he/she does it - it is impossible to take seriously. There is a weapon involved which is extremely rare and unlikely, but everyone seems instantly familiar with it, once it comes to light what it is - no one says, 'What's one of those, then?' Unfortunately, this takes all tension out of the book and makes the ending risible.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and unbelieveable, 31 Aug 2008
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Paperback)
I've enjoyed the author's earlier books, but was disappointed by this one. I found the first third of the book got tedious with the endless descriptions of the injured soldier's bad temper and violent behaviour without much story to carry the book along. I kept feeling that many of the characters were ludicrous, not least the body-building GP. My faith in the author's accuracy over detail was dented by her putting "MD Psych" on the psychiatrist's headed notepaper as his professional qualification, maybe a minor point, but that's not a British qualification in psychiatry. Altogether, very disappointing.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not great, 10 Nov 2007
By 
Moonmaid (The North Pole) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Hardcover)
Minette Walters is one of my favorite authors. I loved her first four books. After that something happened to her style of writing. I heard her say she wanted to write about politics and didn't want to do straight murder mysteries anymore. Anyway after that I've liked some of her books and others not so much. I have to say I was disappointed by this one. I've had it for months and still only gotten about halfway through it. Since I normally look forward to each of her books and devour them in one sitting that says something. I don't know what it is but I just can't get into it and I keep thinking that it sounds unrealistic and a little silly. It feels like Walters wants to describe a more urban, gritty dark world but maybe she hasn't got that much experience of it and that's why it doesn't work. Denise Mina does the dark underbelly of society much better. That kind of makes me think that Walters should stick to the upper middle class world that she knows instead and that makes me sad because I really want to like her.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 8 April 2008
By 
M.D. Smart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Hardcover)
When Minette Walters first began her writing career, she produced several excellent novels, particularly 'The Sculptress', but since then she has never quite lived up to that early promise. Her later work has varied in quality from quite good ('The Dark Room') to pretty awful ('The Breaker', 'Acid Row'). Her latest, 'The Chameleon's Shadow', is a bit of a mixed bag; it's definitely an improvement on her previous book, 'The Devil's Feather' and it certainly kept me interested until the end (despite the fact that the killer is pretty obvious from early on), but a number of annoyances meant I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped.

Lt. Charles Ackland is the central figure in the book, a soldier injured in Iraq who has become prey to unbearable headaches and sudden explosions of temper which are most often directed towards women. Ms Walters attempts to keep us guessing about his true nature, showing his violent side and then revealing some of his difficult history, with which she clearly intends to engage our sympathy. The problem is that she makes Ackland so unpleasant early on - the man is a misogynist, a racist and a rapist - that even after learning what circumstances lay behind his behaviour I found it impossible to sympathise with him. Walters places a great deal of emphasis on his 'macho' qualities - physical strength, a high pain threshold, having 'guts' etc. - but none of these supposedly positive traits excuse the fact that he makes a vicious racist attack early on in the novel, and he physically assaults several women throughout the story (some of them aren't exactly likeable characters, but that's no excuse). Yet suddenly we are supposed to see him as an object of sympathy. Others, including the police, are always making allowances for him, but I found him impossible to like or care about.

Jackson, the female GP and part-time body-builder (I kid you not) is the other main character, and while she is certainly more interesting and appealing than Ackland, she's not very credible. I mean, how many body-building doctors do you know? And how many doctors would call a teenage patient "retard" to their face, no matter how irritating that patent was?

Another big problem with chracterisation is one that Minette Walters often falls foul of: her patronising and offensive depictions of the working classes. Ms. Walters must draw her knowledge of ordinary Londoners from the more hysterical aspects of Eastenders. Her working-class characters are usually foul-mouthed bigots with criminal tendancies, and their dialogue is completely unconvincing, being a combination of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and a particularly bad script from The Bill. It makes me laugh in disbelief when reviewers call Ms Walters a 'gritty' writer, but then they probably have as little experience of the world she's describing as she does herself. She should really stick to the comfortable, middle-class world she inhabits as a setting.

I realise it sounds as if I absolutely hated this book, but that's not true at all. The simple fact is that despite all these annoyances it's still an engrossing page-turner. It's just a shame about the problems, because it could have been a great crime novel without them. I'll still be picking up Ms Walters' next book - there's no doubt she knows how to tell a story and she's a good writer when she's covering familiar ground. Hopefully one day she'll produce something to equal her early work; we can but hope.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 25 July 2008
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Paperback)
Disapppointing. OK I am not a big fan of Walters'style of including some kind of memos, newspaper cuttings, reports into her fiction, designed in a different typo and setting etc. I always found it disturbing and more a distraction from the novel than an addition to it. Anyway, this book is in itself disappointing and thrilling in one go. Sounds strange but that's how it felt to me during reading this story around Lt. Acland, terribly wounded Iraq war soldier returning to the UK after having seen two of his men die in a bombing. He is a very unsympathetic character and the acquaintances he makes on the way during this story are imho too overdrawn too larger than life and through that design almost discriminating some special groups of people. The guilty person comes of course out in the end and I will not disclose here who it is but why this person has done the murders is not made clear, the end is written in a rush after the book drips on for ages. Still, an interesting read, but do not expect too much from it, especially if you have read the early Minette Walters books that were far more better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 13 Nov 2007
By 
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Hardcover)
While I agree with some of the other reviews that this is not Walters' best book, I still couldn't put it down once I'd started reading. What spoilt it for me was that I'd read a newspaper review where the idiotic critic decided that we readers needed to know who didn't do it, hence making it pretty obvious to me who had.
Other than that, the book still held enough tension to keep me interested, but I sometimes felt that Walters was perhaps being too clinical. I appreciate this is her style, and it certainly hasn't bothered me before, but this time round I found it slightly irritating. Not enough to make me stop reading though, and I'll no doubt read it again once or twice. It just won't be the book my hand will always hover over, desperate to pick up...unlike Acid Row, The Sculptress or The Scold's Bridle. Or all her other books come to think of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Chameleon's Shadow, 30 Dec 2007
By 
lynn (Rochester ,England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Hardcover)
A good book,but certainly not one of Minette Walters best.I think some of the previous comments were a bit off the mark.I'm sure must people faced with severe facial deformitity,migraine and the lose of their proffesion would speak more like a digruntled forty year old than a twenty-six year old!If you have never read Walters before I would not reccommend starting with this one it is not as gripping as any of her previous novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to Minette Walters?, 27 Nov 2010
By 
Maitacap (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Hardcover)
If I hadn't read, and loved, her previous books, this would have got one star. I found this book disappointing, tedious and disjointed. The characters are unlikely and not very easy to warm to: even Akland is almost more credible as a brute than as a hero with a heart of gold. Jackson is a weird ensamble of different parts that don't come together, and the result is an intensely annoying character, through whom the author depicts homosexuality in a steoreotypical, parodistic way. But what really did it for me, to the extend that I will have to think twice before reading anything (new) by Walters is the silly, unconvincing, unsatisfying end: the impression I got reading it is that Walters put it together at the last minute, having failed to find anything else, something that would redeem this bland, bland book. Advice for Walters' novices and veterans alike: skip this one altogether!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad Shadow, 2 July 2014
By 
I have to agree with the 2 and 3 star reviewers, this book is a sad shadow of what has come before from the usually excellent Ms Walters. it is some time since I read one of her novels and saw this one on a shelf of free secondhand books so quickly nabbed it. A promising start only to be let down by some really unconvincing and hackneyed characters. By the time the end came, I really couldn't care less. Has Ms Walters lost her inspiration? I note that its been some time since she put pen to paper for a proper novel. if youre at a losse end this book will do, it's OK but nothing more.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a strange one, 20 Sep 2009
By 
D. W. Miller "dmiller945" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Chameleon's Shadow (Paperback)
This is the first Minette Walters book that I have read although my wife is a big fan and gave this to me on holiday once I had finished the books I took with me.
The main characters here are extremes of their type and as such not too believable. A war veteran emotionally and physically scarred for life, a tough lesbian,a dirty old man and a man-hating prostitute. That said they all go into the pot and the story romps along although some meetings and outcomes are contrived to a point beyond coincidence, somehow Walters gets away with them.
I did finish the book so I must have been drawn into it if only to see what happened in the end so I must not mark it down too much.
The author has written quite a few books and having read this one, I can understand her popularity even if only to while away some sunny hours around a swimming pool.
She performs a good service even if in that alone and good luck to her.
I certainly would not dissuade anyone wanting a light, well paced thriller from buying this book.
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The Chameleon's Shadow by Minette Walters (Paperback - 2 May 2008)
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