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<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">When five women are brutally murdered in Sierra Leone, Reuters correspondent Connie Burns suspects a British mercenary who seems to be using the chaos of war to act out sadistic, misogynist fantasies. Connie's suspicions fall on deaf ears, but she's determined to expose the man and his secret. Excerpted from The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
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Library Journal Review
Bad news for Connie Burns, who's tracking a British mercenary she suspects of killing women in Sierra Leone. Herself abducted, she manages to escape but then must sit around waiting for the next axe to fall. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
British author Walters's harrowing 12th psychological chiller spotlights violent suffering and hard-won triumph for Connie Burns, a 36-year-old Reuters war correspondent who crosses a sadistic mercenary alternately identified as John Harwood, Kenneth McConnell and Keith MacKenzie. When she finds MacKenzie training Iraqi policemen in Baghdad in 2004, she links him to serial killings in Sierra Leone two years earlier. An enraged MacKenzie kidnaps, tortures, rapes and releases Connie, who is then too traumatized to coherently divulge details of her abduction. She retreats to a country house in Dorset, where she puzzles over the troubled past of the house ("a place of anguish") and hesitantly befriends her neighbors, the handsome Dr. Peter Coleman and Jess Derbyshire, a reclusive young woman who helps Connie heal from her ordeal. While she gradually recovers, she also lives with the surety that MacKenzie will come after her again. Walters (Disordered Minds) delivers an intense, engrossingly structured tour de force about survival and "the secret of freedom, courage." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
The title refers to the phenomenon of a woman unwittingly igniting sexual passion in a man; the plot follows a woman's attempts to hide from a sadistic serial killer who has become obsessed with her. At the outset, heroine Connie Burns is a war correspondent for Reuters in Sierra Leone. Five women have been murdered; Burns suspects a British mercenary, but neither she nor anyone else can prove anything. Burns' suspicions are heightened during her 2004 posting to Baghdad, where she is kidnapped and held in a cellar. After being released, Burns, shattered by her ordeal, hides in a cottage in England's West Country, trying to gain some semblance of her former independent self. The novel itself takes a sharp turn from hard-hitting war reporting in the Baghdad section to gothic chiller when the setting switches to England. Barton House, the place Burns chooses to recover, is a spooky, Bronte-like construction, presided over by a strange, lonely woman with a tragic past. Burns, unaccountably drawn to this property when her money and resourcefulness could easily net her a more cheerful place to recuperate, has to deal with post-traumatic stress and the sudden reappearance of the British mercenary. Although the gothic overlay seems a bit artificial, Walters (winner of the Gold Dagger and Edgar awards) really knows how to write convincing, ever-escalating psychological suspense. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2006 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Have current events finally caught up with Walters's unremittingly brutal imagination? The latest of her masterful psychological thrillers (Fox Evil, 2003, etc.) examines the effects of terrorism as it ranges from Baghdad to West Dorset. "You'll know not to cross me," soldier-of-fortune John Harwood tells Reuters correspondent Connie Burns when he hears she's accused him of raping and murdering the five Sierra Leone women three teenagers are being blamed for killing. Connie doesn't expect to meet him again, but two years later, while she's covering the Iraq war, she comes face to face with Keith MacKenzie, who's obviously Harwood by another name. The polite insinuations about his past she makes to a spokesperson for MacKenzie's security firm are met with equally polite stonewalling, and she decides it's the better part of valor to retreat to London. But on the way to the airport, she's kidnapped and held captive for three agonizing days before an unexpected release that amounts to a second hell. Because she has no serious visible injuries, she's been let go far sooner than most victims of abduction, and because she refuses to say a word about her captivity, the authorities greet her story with undisguised suspicion. Cut off from everyone but her loving, helpless parents by her panic attacks and inability to come to terms with her violation, she retreats to Barton House, a crumbling rental in Winterbourne Valley. Instead of writing the contracted book about her ordeal, she plumbs the history linking her neighbor, fearsomely gruff farmer/artist Jess Derbyshire, to Lily Wright, the Alzheimer's-stricken owner of the house Jess found collapsed by the side of Lily's fishpond eight months ago. Though the story of the Wrights and the Derbyshires strangely echoes Connie's own, the real satisfaction here is waiting for that story to conclude with the inevitable return of Keith MacKenzie. Genteel and horrifying as ever, with a particularly unsparing examination of the rage of traumatized victims. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.