Top critical review
on October 13, 2000
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.