The Dark Room

Minette Walters, Author Putnam Publishing Group $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-399-14078-5
British suspense writer Walters, each of whose previous books (The Ice House, The Sculptress and The Scold's Bridle) has won an award, now has a new publisher and a big promotional push behind her. Unfortunately, the new book is her weakest to date--overplotted and rather unconvincing. It rests on an interesting premise, however: its heroine, Jinx Kingsley, who has been found drunk and disoriented on an abandoned airfield in Wiltshire after apparently trying to kill herself by wrecking her car, is suspected of several murders--but can't, after her accident, remember anything that happened for several vital days. Her husband had been mysteriously killed some years before--and now her fiance and the girlfriend with whom he has been cheating on Jinx are missing. Can her powerful millionaire father be involved? And what about the man who is savagely attacking prostitutes in the area? As Jinx tries, in a local clinic run by sympathetic Dr. Alan Protheroe, to recover her memory and exorcise dark terrors hovering at the edge of her mind, several well-observed police investigators dig out fragments of her story. But that story is so complicated, and filled with such a welter of walk-on characters, many of them ultimately insignificant, that the reader loses patience. Jinx herself is not made sufficiently sympathetic to win interest, her growing affection for Dr. Protheroe seems half-hearted and the ultimate murderer, when finally unmasked, comes right out of left field. Walters is highly talented, but perhaps she is working too fast. 75,000 first printing; major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-515-12045-5
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