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review 2019-12-08 09:22
Interesting if occasionally far-fetched.
The Sculptress - Minette Walters

The association between goodness and beauty and between evil and ugliness is discussed and challenged throughout this fascinating who-done-it. Some of the action, clues and conclusions seem to reach a bit too far but it was a fun read and the satisfying end leaves plenty of room for speculation.

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review 2019-03-16 21:06
Local Bookclub read
The Last Hours - Minette Walters
Walters’ historical novel is a stunning look at how people reacted when the Black Death came to town. Or came to country and tried to come to town, but you burned down the bridge and kept away anyone who looked sick.

There is historic precedent for a similar story – see the village of Eyam in Derbyshire.
In terms of the fear of people living at the time, Walters does a very good job. The change in society – the rebellion of the serfs – is well played as well.

However, the characters are either good or evil, with no real in between. For instance, there is Lady Anne, who might be a bit more educated and opened minded than women of the time usually were, but Walters gives her a believable back story. Yet, she is too perfect while her husband is too evil. Anne’s reactions and ability to foretell how the ending confrontation would play are true, and not surprising, but one does want her to be wrong, to not be so perfect and modern in her political thoughts.

Furthermore, Lady Anne is the only good woman of note (a woman who has more than a handful of lines). Most of the other movers and shakers are men. The only other woman who has more than a handful of lines, is the villain of the story. Whereas with the men you have several who perform heroic roles. While this, at least in the terms of movement of events, might be historical true, it does make the novel a bit uneven in character usage.

Yet, the setting and fear are stunningly conveyed in the story.
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review 2018-09-02 14:10
The Last Hours - Minette Walters 
The Last Hours - Minette Walters

The first outbreaks of the Black Death in Dorset. There is crime and secrets and lies, but this is counterbalanced by great kindness and cooperation and thought. You wouldn't think it could be a hopeful kind of book, but even as the plague strikes so swiftly with such high mortality, it does free up all the wealth and power that was gathered into so few hands.


Now I just have to wait for the story to be continued.


It's situations like this that make me reluctant to start a series until it's all written


Library copy


Edited to add, 9/2/18:  I often give authors of fiction about plagues a hard time for giving their imagined diseases an easy transmission, an incredibly high mortality rate, and a very brief latency: these three ratios all being very high means an infection will burn out in a population too quickly to spread. Even the worst plagues in naive populations don't score high on all three. They also tend to avoid people getting ill and recovering, which some portion of the population usually does. Most fiction wrlters avoid the importance of hygiene and sanitation and supportive care: they have everyone dying from the primary disease directly rather than address indirect mortality. I've encountered more than a few books that use 99.99% in order to decrease the surplus population. I mention this because I can only think of two writers who don't cheat that way: Connie Willis and now Minette Walters. If you want realistic plagues, these are the women to read.


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text 2018-08-28 14:31
Good and Bad Decisions
The Last Hours - Minette Walters

It was wise of me to pick my fattest book for my pre-read. But it was also a really good one, and I was eager to see what happened next, and I had a lot of free time this weekend to spend on the sofa with cats and family, reading away. So now it's done, and I 've got that book hangover where I don't want to go back to the books I was supposed to be reading to clear the shelves for September 1st.


And also it's going to be harder to update and post my spreadsheet from my phone.



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text 2018-08-26 16:38
And We're Off...
The Last Hours - Minette Walters

Oh the thrill of choosing a book from my Bingo stack! The heady rush of getting to start right away. Then comes the agonizing choice and hours of back and forth. Finally I settle on what I most want to read at home on the weekend rather than lug on the commute, and Minette Walters weighs in the lead clearly. Then, consternation. This bool, unlike all her other books is not all psychological insight into the way a contemporary community reacts to crime. Historical fiction about the Black Death, yes, of course, and the first of a planned three? No doubt every one heard my delighted squeals. At 116 of 537 pages I'm hooked. Later I'll pick a square for it (of course, filling my free square first seems like a awful strategy ).



Page 206: the first plot twist: there is a murder. Walters came through for me.

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