The Breaker by Minette Walters: B+

From the back cover:
Twelve hours after Kate Sumner’s brutally murdered body washes up on the beach, her traumatized 3-year-old daughter is found wandering the streets alone. At first, the prime suspect is a young actor, obsessed with pornography. But now, the local English constable has doubts about the victim’s husband. Was he really out of town when she was killed? And why does the child scream every time her father comes near her?

Holding readers in an exhilarating state of anticipation, British author Minette Walters guides them through a startling maze where nothing is at it seems, and even the innocent tell lies.

The Breaker was a lot different than the other English mysteries I’ve read. Instead of introducing a community of suspects, there were only a few, and details of their personality were revealed only gradually, sometimes shifting when lies were discovered. The role of the local police constabulary in the investigation was given more prominence, with PC Nick Ingram turning out to be the most likable character. The atmosphere was also darker and more grim.

I found the mystery itself to be good, and had no idea who would turn out to be the culprit. The stories of suspects and witnesses changed often, and I also liked that even when caught, the perpetrator still didn’t divulge the entirety of what had really happened. Another neat sidestepping of convention involved the idea of the intuitive leap. In other mysteries, an investigator would have a sudden flash of the (possibly unusual) manner in which the crime was committed, and it’d turn out to be right. Not here, though. PC Ingram made quite a lot of very plausible suggestions that weren’t always proved correct.

This was the first book I’d read by Walters. I’ll be reading more.

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