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The Sculptress [Mass Market Paperback]

Minette Walters
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1994 Sculptress (Book 1)
Hoping to get a new book published, burned-out journalist Rosalind Leigh interviews Olive Martin, an obsessed sculptor who is convicted of killing her mother, and whom Rosalind begins to believe is not the actual murderer. Reprint. NYT. AB.

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From Amazon

Convicted of the brutal ax murders of her mother and sister, Olive Martin spends her days in prison carving tiny human figures out of wax. Rosalind Leigh is a best-selling author whose publisher jolts her out of writer's block by telling her to research a book about Olive and the murders, or else. Though repelled by the idea at first, Rosalind soon becomes intrigued by her subject and begins to believe she may be innocent. She soon uncovers plenty of reasons to doubt the official police version of the killings and with Olive's help, untangles a sinister cover-up. The Sculptress won the 1994 Edgar Award for best mystery novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This Edgar Award-winning mystery turns on the relationship between a troubled journalist and a woman convicted of a gruesome murder.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best! Dec 13 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Other reviews here have summarized the plot...suffice it to say the plot is simple, and the characters are complex. That's what makes this novel so compelling: it's populated by real people, albeit not always very nice ones, and these people are making their way in a world which is not friendly to them. There's a layer of philosophy here too: organized religion, mysticism, and the occult all come into play as the story unfolds. It's a satisfyingly deep and well-written book, and I recommend it highly.
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By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is an intriguing, well written mystery which garnered the 1994 Edgar Award for best novel of the year for British writer, Minette Walters, who has written quite a number of excellent books. She is a writer in the tradition of that other great British novelist, Ruth Rendell, known also as Barbara Vine. The comparison by those who are familiar with the works of both Ms. Walters and Ms. Rendell is inescapable.
This book revolves around two main stories that become by necessity intertwined. One is that of a morbidly obese, young woman, Olive Martin, who is imprisoned for the brutal and grisly murders of her mother, Gwen, and beautiful, younger sister, Amber, whose butchered bodies shocked even the most jaded of folks. On the eve of trial, Olive made a full confession to the crime and received a prison sentence of not less than twenty-five years for her butchery. Known in prison as "The Sculptress", she passes the time making miniature, carved, wax images, a delicate and sensitive pastime for one with a reputation for such primal savagery.
Enter Rosalind "Roz" Leigh, a thirties something author suffering from writer's block, who accepts a commission to write about the Olive Martin case. After meeting Olive, she becomes intrigued by her, finding her to be other than what she had expected, and a symbiotic relationship develops between the two. As she delves into the facts of the murder case, and as her interviews with Olive reveal, all is not quite what it seems. The more that Roz sorts through the facts and the more people that she interviews who were in some way associated with the Martin family, the more she becomes convinced that a miscarriage of justice has occurred and that the wrong person is paying a horrific price for the grisly murders of Gwen and Amber.
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3.0 out of 5 stars enough surprises Oct. 13 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The plot of this Edgar Award winning novel by one of Britain's hottest mystery writers is awfully familiar, but in Minette Walters capable hands it's still creepy, interesting and very readable. Rosalind Leigh is commissioned to write a book about Olive Martin, an obese young woman, known as The Sculptress after hacking up her mother and sister with an ax and rearranging the pieces. Now all she carves is little wax figurines in her prison cell, including one of Rosalind after their first interview. At this and subsequent interviews, Olive convinces Rosalind that she did not actually commit the crime, this in spite of her own confession and a mountain of evidence. Of course, as Rosalind starts to dig into the facts of the case, she finds herself in mounting danger.
It all sounds painfully standard I know, but it made for a very good BBC adaptation which was shown here on PBS and the book is terrific too. As always in these things, Olive is the most interesting character in the book, but her relationship with Rosalind is especially well done and there are enough surprises to offset the somewhat formulaic basic plot.
GRADE: C+
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1.0 out of 5 stars I don't get it Aug. 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As I read all the glowing praise for Walters and her finely crafted mysteries, I have to say, I don't get it. I think she's a terrible writer. I read The Scold's Bridle when it first came out and didn't agree with the praise it had earned. But when casting about the other day for a modern mystery, I thought I'd give Walters another try with The Sculptress. It was even worse than The Scold's Bridle. The plot twists are so transparently engineered, and you could drive a truck through some of the holes. At the end, when the tension should be building, the exposition becomes confusing and story oddly boring. Throughout, her main characters are shallow, yet instantly dislikable, and their behavior is just bizarre (and I'm talking about the non-criminals). Even when she's trying to show tough tenderness between characters, it comes off more like really bad romance novel relationship, mixing violence and sexual interest in a very unpleasant way. To top it off, the dialogue is stilted and, quite often, completely uninteresting. I see very little intelligence, inventiveness, or skill here; Walters can't hold a candle to Ruth Rendell.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE SCULPTRESS -- A PERFECT TITLE FOR THIS BOOK June 18 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is an intriguing story about Olive Martin, who is in prison for murdering and cutting up the bodies of her mother Gwen and her sister Amber. Enter Roz, an author who is not really interested in writing any longer. Her publisher gives her an ultimatum and an assignment to write a book about Olive and the murders. She reluctantly agrees and once she sinks her teeth into this task, she is no longer convinced that Olive really committed the murders that she has confessed to. Walters' portrayal of Olive as an obese, unkempt woman adds to the story as she allows the reader to want to believe that Olive is in fact the murderer, while at the same time, the story that Roz is unraveling could perhaps tell us otherwise.
This book won the 1994 Edgar Award for best mystery novel and it is no surprise why. The real surprise is how deft Minette Walters is at making this gruesome story come alive. It is filled with darkness, tension and sensitivity to the protagonist. Can Minette Walters write a bad book -- I don't think so. She's obviously a master of her craft.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An inviting read, makes you want to know the characters.
While this is a thriller that isn't gripping, it is a lovely read and a good study. I really enjoyed the characters and the gentle twists that kept inviting me back to the page. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Deb Dorsey
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing story
As this book begins, author Rosalind Leigh's world is falling apart. Torn up by a failed marriage, she develops writer's block and is unable to pursue her career. Read more
Published on March 18 2004 by Karen Potts
4.0 out of 5 stars A different story
The story of the book is very different from almost all the books that I have read and I have my own questions of the veracity of the facts when they happened 6 years before, but... Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2003 by Jorge Frid
3.0 out of 5 stars the sculptress
I couldn't wait to get this book ! I had read so many good reviews. The first 200 pages were so good that I could not read fast enough. Read more
Published on July 15 2001 by Annette Sonnenberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex plot with a lot of surprises
I liked reading that book very much. The plot is complex and full of twists and turns and it leaves the reader more than once in complete disbelief and surprise. Read more
Published on June 19 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Really wonderful
I loved it.I think I've read it a hundred times and every time it 's gotten better.The problems of olive are described well but not yellow press like. Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2000 by anonymous
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Commuter Reading
This was the first Minette Walters book I have read and I have bought all her others since reading The Sculptress. Read more
Published on July 12 2000 by kanga
5.0 out of 5 stars eeww.
i know there are people as large as olive in this world, but the descriptions of her are just kinda gross. Read more
Published on July 6 2000 by "jessica-bklyn"
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