In each of her ten critically acclaimed and hugely popular novels, Minette Walters has explored the dark terrain of the human psyche to give us thrillers of exceptional psychological complexity and suspense. Now, in The Devil's Feather, she gives us her most unexpected and electrifying novel yet. In 2002, five women are discovered barbarously murdered in Sierra Leone. Reuters Africa correspondent Connie Burns suspects a British mercenary: a man who seems to turn up in every war-torn corner of Africa, whose reputation for violence and brutality is well-founded and widely known. Connie's suspicions that he's using the chaos of war to act out sadistic, misogynistic fantasies fall on deaf ears-but she's determined to expose him and his secret. The consequences are devastating. Connie encounters the man again in Baghdad, but almost immediately she's taken hostage. Released after three desperate days, terrified and traumatized by the experience-fearing that she will never again be the person she once was-Connie retreats to England. She is bent on protecting herself by withholding information about her abduction. But secluded in a remote rented house-where the jealously guarded history of her landlady's family seems to mirror her own fears-she knows that it is only a matter of time before her nightmares become real. With its sinuous plot, its acutely drawn characters, and its blistering suspense, The Devil's Feather keeps us riveted from first to last. It is a dazzling reminder of why Publishers Weekly has dubbed Minette Walters "Agatha Christie with the gloves off."
When British lieutenant Charles Acland returns home from Iraq, his serious head injuries are the outward manifestation of a profound inner change: he may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or it may be, as his psychiatrist suggests, "the prolonged destruction of a personality." Though previously well adjusted and known as an extrovert, Acland now withdraws into himself. As he begins his recovery in a dismal provincial hospital, crippled by migraines and suspicious of his doctors, he grows uncharacteristically aggressive-particularly against women, and most particularly against his ex-fiancee. Finally, rejecting medical advice to undergo cosmetic surgery-opting, instead, to accept his disfigurement-and cutting all ties to his former life, he moves to London. There, alone and unmonitored, he sinks into a quagmire of guilt and paranoia-until an outburst of irrational, vicious anger brings him to the attention of the local police: they are investigating three recent murders, all of them apparently motivated by the kind of extreme rage that Acland has exhibited. Now under suspicion, Acland is forced to confront the issues behind his desperate existence before it's too late: Has he always been the duplicitous chameleon that his ex-fiancee accuses him of being? Can he control this newly apparent sinister side of his personality? And why, if he truly hates women, does he in the end seek help from a woman-someone as straightforward and self-disciplined as he is unsure and seemingly out of control-to repair the damage to his mind? In its timeliness, its psychological complexity, and its unstoppable suspense, The Chameleon's Shadow is a thriller of the first order.
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