"With private security firms supplying bodyguards in every theatre of war, who will notice the emergence of a sexual psychopath from the ranks of the mercenaries A gripping story of lurking menace told with all the hallmarks of Minette Walters' consummate style."
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.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 21, 2006
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Excerpt from The Devil's Feather by Carole Mortimer
I don't know if that story was picked up in the West. I believe some interest was shown in South Africa, but only because rape and murder had been high on that country's agenda for some time. I was transferred to Asia shortly afterwards, so I never learnt the outcome of the trial. I assumed the teenagers were convicted because justice, like everything else in Sierra Leone, was subject to economic restrictions. Even if the court went to the expense of appointing a public defence lawyer, confessions of guilt, with graphic details of how each victim was murdered, would attract a summary sentence.
I know Alan Collins was troubled by the indictments, but there was little he could do about it when his request for an experienced pathologist was refused. He was in a difficult position-more an observer than an adviser-with less than two weeks of his secondment left at the time of Amie Jonah's abduction, and the youths- descriptions of their crimes effectively sealed their fate. Nevertheless, Alan remained sceptical.
"They were in no fit state to be questioned," he told me. Amie's family had reduced them to pulp. They'd have said anything the police wanted them to say rather than face another beating...
He was also troubled by the crime scenes. "I saw two of the bodies in situ," he said, -and neither of them looked like a gang attack. Both women were huddled in the corners of the rooms with their heads and shoulders sliced to ribbons and defence wounds to their arms. It looked to me as if they were trying to protect themselves from a single individual who attacked from the front. A gang would have been slashing at them from all sides.....
"What can you do?"
"Very little. No one's been interested since the youths confessed. I've written a report, pointing up the anomalies, but there are precious few doctors in Freetown, let alone forensic pathologists. He smiled ruefully... The thinking seems to be that they deserve what they get because there's no doubt they were trying to abduct young Amie...
"If you're right, won't the killer strike again? Won't that exonerate the boys?"
"It depends who he is. If he's a local, then probably . . . but if he's one of the foreign contingent..he shrugged..I'm guessing he'll export his activities elsewhere...