cover image The Cellar

The Cellar

Minette Walters. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $24 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2451-7

In this haunting short novel from Edgar-winner Walters (The Chameleon’s Shadow), Ebuka and Yetunde Songoli, a well-to-do African immigrant couple, live an unremarkable life in London, except that they keep a 14-year-old girl, Muna, locked in the cellar. It’s only after their 10-year-old son, Abiola, disappears on his way to school and the police are called that the Songolis are forced to pretend that Muna is their actual, though mentally disabled, daughter and move her to a real room. But Muna, who previously was only allowed to address the Songolis as Princess and Master, is quite able, despite not knowing how to read or write. As the police investigation grinds on, it becomes clear that Muna has plans of her own that don’t involve cooking, cleaning, or being sexually abused by Ebuka any longer. The violence, in keeping with the grim underpinnings of the tale, might be too much for some readers, but Walters nails a perfect blend of psychological suspense and social commentary that resonates long after the book is over. [em]Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company Authors’ Agents (U.K.). (Feb.) [/em]