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on 25 January 2001
This book was a marvel, i found myself up till five in the morning. The plot is engrossing and the characters wonderfully thought up and portrayed. All and all what we have come to expect from Ms Walters. How sad and disappointed i was to reach the end. Not just at the fact that it was over, but it was so disappointing, there was no attempt on her part to cover the murderer's identity up in the latter part of the book, nor to convince the read they might be innocent. Add to that the fact that it was so precitable, and there was a much better candidate, who would have been much more satisfying. All in all a joy to read, but a shambolic end.
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HALL OF FAMEon 26 February 2001
This book is written in the easy flowing style that I've become used to in Ms Walters' books. The plot is great and the characters are realistic, some of them likeable and all of them thoroughly portrayed. As usual it was not the most obvious candidate who did it, which adds to the entertainment value. I probably wouldn't recommend this as a first Minette Walters book, there are others that introduce her style of writing better, but it's another great book and I highly recommend it.
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on 19 April 2000
Having read The Sculptress and The Dark Room , I expected better from the usually talented Walters, but The Scold's Bridle is a confused and confusing tale going nowhere. The characters are unbelievably 2-dimensional, difficult to identify with and none of the relationships between them are properly explained, so we are left to guess for ourselves why they behave as they do. Walters barely skims the surface with regards to any detail about Mathilda's childhood (which is necessary to the story) and the details that are given are sketchy, so it is left to the reader to try to fill in the many blanks by themselves. The book goes from one ridiculous scenario to another and is quite unbelievable at times. I managed to keep reading to the end (but only just) in the hope that the details surrounding Mathilda's bizarre death would explain the reason for this very draining story and that more information about her family history would be revealed - along with the reason for her obsession with the Scolds Bridle - but it turned out to be an almost totally unrelated ending which Walters seemed to have plucked from a completely different book! Take my advise - give this one a miss.
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on 28 November 2001
"The Scold's Bridle" is my favorite of Minette Walters's books, although I have loved them all. The very history of the scold's bridle was interesting, and using it as a murder weapon puts Ms. Walters at the head of the class. Learning the identity of the murderer near the end of the book only increased the suspense. If you only read one book by Minette Walters, I recommend "The Scold's Bridle"!
Bettye McKee
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on 8 July 2004
This book is brilliant! The characters are well portrayed and the story is great. Try reading the diary parts in reverse order... This book keeps you wondering what's going on for the most part of the book. Brilliant!
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on 11 December 2015
4.5 stars

This is the first time I have read a book written by British author Minette Walters. I thank my friend Janet for recommending her to me. The Scold’s Bride is a beautifully penned mystery. Ms. Walters writes rich literary prose that is such a joy to find in the mystery genre. Though I have not read Ruth Rendell or P.D. James, I have seen other readers compare Ms. Walters’ style to theirs. This is high praise indeed.

The main plotline deals with whether Mathilda Gillespie, considered by many to be a spiteful arrogant old bitch, was murdered or committed suicide. The story is highly involved and is played out by an intriguing cast of characters. These players, in turn, are also complex and well fleshed out. There are numerous secrets and hidden agendas for the authorities to discover and maneuver around if this case is to be solved. A special treat is the way the author laces the narrative with references to the works of William Shakespeare. There are plenty of surprises along the way, and though the tale moves along nicely, I wouldn’t call it a thriller. I characterize the book as a deliciously dark, but not graphic, mystery.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Scold’s Bridle. If you are looking for a quick airplane read, an action-packed thriller, or some great blood and gore, this is not the book for you. This tale is for mystery aficionados who are looking for something intricate and thought provoking, a novel to savor. I am looking forward to my next book by this very special author.
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VINE VOICEon 1 March 2007
Minette Walters is one of my favourite authors of all time, but this is very far from being my favourite of her books. It begins wonderfully, with a dark death promising intriguing mystery and much nastiness, but by the end has developed into something very close to farce. The denouement is unsatisfactory; without giving the entire thing away, the murder never feels fully explained.

An eccentric and widely disliked old woman, Martha Gillespie, is found dead in her bath, wrists slashed, apparently a suicide. But she has been crowned with a scold's bridle, a medieval punishment for women who talked too much, decorated with nettles and daisies, which she could not have put on herself.

Sarah Blakeney, Mrs Gillespie's doctor, seems to be the only person who actually liked her, and is the only person initially willing to pursue the suicide theory. Sarah, though, has problems of her own: her womanizing husband seems about to embark on an affair with Mrs Gillespie's mercenary daughter, and perhaps had an affair with Martha herself. Dr. Blakeney and the investigating police (who, I am afraid to say, have merged into one navy blue lump in my memory) must uncover some very nasty secrets in Martha's past before they can explain the murder. Unfortunately, these nasty secrets turn out to be the very standard set of English murder mystery secrets: incest, missing children, secret diaries and so forth, which was all annoyingly formulaic.

There is no doubt that this book has a lot of plot, and a much larger cast than many of Walters' other books. Perhaps this is the problem; it feels cluttered and unresolved, twist upon twist upon twist, until the final ending, which promotes a previously minor character to major importance (this is one of my big bugbears with thriller plots) and feels small and silly compared to the grand passion which has preceded it.
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on 3 September 2012
I have become addicted to Minette Walters writings. A great storyteller, always original, gripping and entralling. This book was an excellent example of her work and a real pageturner, highly recommended.
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on 13 October 2012
I found this to be a really enjoyable read. I would say read it if you get the opportunity.

Back Cover Blurb:
An old woman is found dead in her bath, her wrists slashed: an apparent suicide. But she is wearing a scold's bridle on her head, adorned with a crown of nettles. What could have driven her to such a desperate act? The rumours start to spread that her death wasn't suicide but murder.
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on 19 April 2013
This was the first book I've read by Minette Walters, and I won't be reading any more.

The story was told almost entirely in dialogue with very few descriptions of the settings in which these conversations took place. How can the reader really get a feel for where they are without descriptions?

There were also hardly any moments of thought or other activity between these conversations. They just went from one conversation to another, like a comedy sketch show.

In fact I did find the structure of the conversations quite comical; they nearly always consisted of only two people; and of the main characters who all knew each other, it would go something like this:

A speaks with B; B speaks with C; B scurries off to speak with D; A speaks with C, etc. until everyone had talked to everyone individually with nothing else going on in between!

But I stuck with it, as it said "Crime Novel of the Year" on the front, but alas (won't be falling for that one again), the ending was like an afterthought. It was as if the author couldn't be bothered finishing the book and had no clue who to have as the murderer. Then months later, she thought she'd make up a totally ridiculous and unbelievable story to try to back up her choice of culprit.

If the settings had been described in any detail, the ending would have made a lot more sense too.

I was furious! It had gone from bad to worse. I guess the people who chose it as "Crime Novel of the Year" must be very easily pleased, or this was the only book they'd read.

I remember seeing a documentary once that said Hitchcock hated whodunnits, as the audience couldn't invest in any of the characters. This applied here, as I found the policeman the only slightly interesting or likable character.

I also try to identify which character I believe is speaking the author's own opinions, so I can learn about the author themselves. But this exercise resulted in the observation that several of the characters were almost identical in the way they viewed the world; very judgementally and snobbishly.

All the way through I got the feeling we were supposed to be rooting for the doctor's character, as she seemed to have the least number of flaws, but even she was quite a snob too.

The other reviewers say her other books are better than this one. But I don't want to take the chance. I'll stick to the authors I know are good.

Don't waste your time guys.
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