|Publisher:||Penguin Group (USA)|
|Product dimensions:||6.28(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.29(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Minette Walters is the author of eight previous novels, including Acid Row, named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Novels of 2002. Her work has been translated into thirty-two languages.
Hometown:Dorchester, Dorset, England
Date of Birth:September 26, 1949
Place of Birth:Bishop¿s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
Education:B.A. in French, Dunelm (Durham University), 1971
Read an Excerpt
THE FOX SLIPPED QUIETLY through the night in search of food, with only the occasional flash of his white-tipped brush flagging his presence. The scent of a badger set his nose quivering, and he skirted the piece of track where the territorial marker had been laid. A shy, nervous creature, he had more sense than to cross the path of a voracious fighter with powerful jaws and poisonous teeth.
He had no such fear of the smell of burning tobacco. It spoke to him of bread and milk for himself, and pieces of chicken for his vixen and her cubs-easier plunder than a nighttime's wearisome hunting for voles and field mice. Ever suspicious, he stood for several minutes, watching and listening for alien movement. There was none. Whoever was smoking was as quiet and still as he. Finally, in trustful response to the Pavlovian stimulus, he crept toward the familiar smell, unaware that a rolled cigarette was different from the pipe he was used to.
The illegal trap, a maiming device of metal teeth, sprang shut on his delicate foreleg with the biting power of a huge badger, tearing the flesh and snapping the bone. He screamed in pain and anger, lashing at the empty night in search of his imagined adversary. For all his supposed cunning, he hadn't been clever enough to recognize that the motionless figure beside a tree bore no resemblance to the patient old man who regularly fed him.
The woodland burst with sound in response to his terror. Birds fluttered on their perches, nocturnal rodents scurried into hiding. Another fox-perhaps his vixen-barked an alarm from across the field. As the figure turned toward him, drawing a hammer from his coat pocket, the shaved tracks in the mane of hair must have suggested a bigger, stronger foe than the fox could cope with, because he ceased his screaming and dropped in whimpering humility to his belly. But there was no mercy in the deliberate crushing of his little pointed muzzle before the trap was forced open and, still alive, his brush was sliced from his body with a cut-throat razor.
His tormentor spat his cigarette to the ground and mashed it under his heel before tucking the brush in his pocket and seizing the animal by its scruff. He slipped as quietly through the trees as the fox had done earlier, coming to a halt at the edge of the woods and melting into the shadow of an oak. Fifty feet away, across the ha-ha ditch, the old man was on his feet on the terrace, staring toward the treeline, a shotgun leveled at shoulder height toward his unseen watcher. The backwash from the lights inside his open French windows showed his face grim with anger. He knew the cry of an animal in pain, knew that its abrupt cessation meant the creature's jaw had been smashed. He should have done. This wasn't the first time a broken body had been tossed at his feet.
He never saw the whirl of the black-sleeved, black-gloved arm as it lobbed the dying fox toward him, but he caught the streaks of white as the tumbling paws flashed in the lamplight. With murder in his heart he aimed below them and fired both barrels.
DORSET ECHO, SATURDAY, 25 AUGUST 2001
THE ROLLING DOWNLAND of Dorset's Ridgeway has become home to the largest illegal caravan park in the country's history. Police estimate that some 200 mobile homes and over 500 gypsies and travelers have gathered at scenic Barton Edge for an August Bank Holiday rave.
From the windows of Bella Preston's psychedelic bus, the soon-to-be-designated World Heritage site of Dorset's Jurassic coastline unfolds in all its glory. To the left, the majestic cliffs of Ringstead Bay, to the right the stunning crag of Portland Bill, ahead the dazzling blue of the English Channel.
"This is the best view anywhere in England," says Bella, 35, cuddling her three daughters.
"The kids love it. We always try to spend our summers here." Bella, a single mother from Essex, who describes herself as a "social worker," was one of the first to arrive. "The rave was proposed when we were at Stonehenge for the solstice in June. Word spread quickly, but we hadn't expected so many."
Dorset police were alerted when an abnormal number of traveler-style vehicles entered the county yesterday morning. Roadblocks were set up along the routes leading to Barton Edge in an attempt to stop the invasion. The result was a series of jams, some five miles long, that angered locals and bona fide tourists who were caught in the net. With the travelers' vehicles unable to turn around in the confined space of the narrow Dorset lanes, the decision was taken to allow the gathering to happen.
Farmer Will Harris, 58, whose fields have been taken over by the illegal encampment, is angered by police and local authority impotence to act. "I've been told I'll be arrested if I provoke these people," he fumed. "They're destroying my fences and crops, but if I complain and someone gets hurt then it's my fault. Is that justice?"
Sally Macey, 48, Traveler Liaison Officer for the local authority, said last night that the travelers had been served with a formal notice to quit. She agreed that the serving of notices was a game. "Travelers operate on the basis that seven days is the usual length of stay," she said. "They tend to move on just before the order comes into effect. In the meantime we ask them to refrain from intimidatory behavior and to ensure that their rubbish is disposed of in nominated sites."
This cut no ice with Mr. Harris who pointed to the sacks of litter dumped at the entrance to his farm. "This will be all over the place tomorrow when the foxes get at these bags. Who's going to pay for the cleanup? It cost a farmer £10,000 to clear his land in Devon after an encampment half this size."
Bella Preston expressed sympathy. "If I lived here I wouldn't like it either. Last time we held a rave of this size, 2000 teens came from the local towns to join in. I'm sure it will happen again. The music goes on all night and it's pretty loud."
A police spokesman agreed. "We are warning local people that the noise nuisance will last throughout the weekend. Unfortunately there is little we can do in these situations. Our priority is to avoid unnecessary confrontation." He confirmed that an influx of youngsters from Bournemouth and Weymouth was likely. "A free open-air rave is a big draw. Police will be on hand, but we expect the event to pass off peacefully."
Mr. Harris is less optimistic. "If it doesn't, my farm will be in the middle of a war zone," he said. "There aren't enough policemen in Dorset to shift this lot. They'll have to bring in the army."
from Fox Evil by Minette Walters, copyright © 2003 Minette Walters, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was a tricky plot, I got lost a few times but in the end it all came together. I was fascinated by Wolfie he seemed so pathetic. Fox however was not realistic. A bit too dark for my taste but it is unquestionably superb writing.
I usually don't have to read a book twice simply to understand the story. After the second reading, Fox Evil made more sense, but was still a disappointment. The strong points here are the characters. The relationship between Mark and Nancy really sizzles, and James is quite heroic. The Bartletts and Prue are despicable, as they should be. But the author tries very, very hard to build suspense, and has a hard time settling down at the end and wrapping things up. With all the buildup, the resolution is limp. Ms. Walters is trying to tell several stories here. First comes the standard 'contested will' angle. Then come the murky goings-on between the confused alcoholic daughter and a shadowy figure from her past. So much of the story is about Leo and Elizabeth; yet, we never actually meet them. Elizabeth is talked about, and Leo is a voice on the phone. We have the 'colorful' neighbor women who feed on gossip. The debate over fox-hunting. Child welfare, and the lifestyles of travelers (which, for me, was the most interesting part). Ms. Walters also likes to 'update' her British murder mystery with lots of technology--e-mails, answering machines, cell phones, even voice distorters abound here. Finally, the story violates a lot of basic rules about writing. First and foremost...Show, don't tell. It became absolutely tedious to read page after page of dialogue in which nothing was said for the most part, but in which a key bit of explanation was buried and easily missed by the reader. Having devoured Stephen King's 'On Writing,' I've become attuned to the overuse of adverbs. If a character says 'Bugger all!' it isn't necessary to tell us he said it 'aggressively.' Now, if Ms. Walters had described this utterance as passive, flaccid, or timid, it would lend more interest. Overall, the book was a major disappointment. Hope others in my community like it better; I'm donating it to the local library.
In the small village of Shenstead, England Colonel James Lockyer-Fox, decorated war hero and ex prisoner of war, mourns the death of his beloved wife. During the funeral, his children ignored him and walked away from him without saying a word to him. This gives rise to rumors that the colonel murdered his wife. After the police question him for two days, the post-mortem proves she died from natural causes and the blood found near her body was that of an animal............................... Some of the villagers think he is guilty no matter what the police says and start harassing him by phone, claiming ugly things about his children and the illegitimate granddaughter that was given away at birth. He believes it is his two children who are out of the will that are supplying the neighbors with information that only they should know. He falls into a deep depression that lifts when he is reunited with his granddaughter who gives him a reason to live. What he doesn¿t know is at least two people living in the village are willing to go to any lengths to destroy him.............................. The queen of Gothic, Minette Walters, has written a fascinating tale that explores the nature of true evil; a story that captures the essence of the human condition when confronted with a person so demonic that the rules of acceptable behavior don¿t apply. There is no hero in this enthralling melodrama, just an ordinary individual trying to survive the death of a loved one and a feeling of being left behind and all alone with no friends to help him................. Harriet Klausner