Fox Evil Hardcover – May 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Walters (The Ice House; The Sculptress; Acid Row) is considered by many to be the preeminent crime novelist writing in England today. This psychological thriller, her ninth novel, should satisfy both aficionados of the traditional English cozy and readers who prefer mysteries with a grimmer edge. Walters's dark drama unfolds in the tiny Dorset village of Shenstead, where Col. James Lockyer-Fox's wife, Ailsa, dressed only in flimsy nightclothes and boots, has been found dead on the terrace of Shenstead Manor. A coroner's jury declares James not guilty, but a telephone harassment campaign by unknown persons accuses him not only of the murder but other heinous crimes as well. This unrelenting pressure drives the colonel into a deep and debilitating depression. London solicitor Mark Ankerton steps in to prove his friend James innocent and to clear up the question of just what Ailsa was doing locked out of the house on a freezing night in her underwear and Wellies. His investigation leads him to a nearby group of Travelers-modern-day gypsies who roam the countryside in converted buses-who are squatting on unclaimed land, attempting to seize the property. The Travelers are led by the monstrously evil Fox, whose own agenda is much more complicated than a simple desire for free real estate. Award winner Walters rounds out her novel with several subplots, including confrontations between fox hunters and hunt saboteurs and other small scandals of rural life, all tied in the end to the resolution of the story. The writer's many fans will thoroughly enjoy this hefty, stand-alone mystery, but psychological thriller readers who are more interested in thrills than psychology may find the going a bit too slow and the eventual denouement too complicated by half.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The title of Walters' latest fright fest comes from a peculiarly virulent kind of skin disorder, in which hair falls out in mangy clumps. It also serves as the delightful nickname of one of Walters' main characters in this compulsive page-turner, which puts a deranged spin on the conventional village cozy. The matriarch of a wealthy family is found dead in the garden, bloodstains near her night-gowned form. The chief suspect is her husband, Colonel James Lockyer Fox; suspicion against him grows even after he has been officially cleared by the coroner. From this traditional start, Walters' narrative takes detours: into the worlds of fox-hunting saboteurs and down-and-outers living in a caravan park just outside the village. She also throws in the colonel's attempts to reconcile with his illegitimate granddaughter. All this, against the backdrop of growing community hostility toward the colonel, makes for a novel that becomes increasingly intriguing as the reader realizes how the plotlines intersect. Walters, who has won both the American Edgar and the British Gold Dagger Award, is expert at ratcheting up suspense while she portrays credibly confused and terrified characters meeting their fates. Great psychological acuity in a hair-raising suspense story. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
No need to describe the plot of this book - its been so admirably done already. Unlike so many authors, her novels are stand alone rather than series book. And also unlike so many authors, as her popularity grows she just doesn't repeat her plots, nor seem to be selling out or "phoning it in". Yes, the ending is a tad trite - but only just a tad, and thank heavens since the rest of the book is anything but. More of a psychological roller coaster.
Excellent stuff, and hopefully there'll be more of it very soon.
Suspicion soon falls on others including a group of squatters that have moved in on land adjacent to the Lockyer-Fox manor. In this group is a psychopath named Fox Evil who is quite capable of the murder. James looks for his illegitimate and only granddaughter, Captain Nancy Smith. Why? There are many mysteries to be answered in this incredibly complex and confusing mess of a book.
Minette Walters has written several uneven books over the last five years. However, last year's ACID ROW was one of her best works since the incredible THE SCULPTRESS. Her current work sets new standards for complex psychodramas that are so complicated it borders on incomprehensibility. There are still moments of genius in the writing with her ability to set atmosphere and create realistic and powerful characters. . However, the plot is so dense the reader might lose all interest or wrack their brain cells trying
Oh, I thought Walters was going to go somewhere with her plot. I expected the worst. I expected some of these characters to be the 'people of the lie'. But, this is not 'The Sculptress' or 'The Ice House' and this is definitely not the 'Scold's Bridal.' Has Walters returned to writing text for day time tv? Granted, there are some violent scenes involving a fox or two, but what would you expect from characters who get their kicks chasing one poor little helpless animal through the underbrush with a pack of dogs. Other than that, violence or the threat of it is largely nonexistent.
There are a few unnerving scenes, but the protagonist has just returned from a stint with the army in Bosnia, so the reader might not feel as concerned as if the stalker had come upon a little old lady in her nightgown-which he does early on and which is related after the fact. I can't say too much more without revealing the plot, but Walters might have made this book at least as scary as those ghost tales we told round the campfire at Scout camp if she had given Edgar Allen Poe a closer reading
Set in a small rural community in the southwest of England, with an uneasy mix of residents. Farmers and wealthy landowners who have lived in the area for several generations now have neighbors who moved out from Britain's larger cities, investing retirement funds in country houses, and imagining themselves the new lords and ladies of the manor.
New arrivals on the scene are a group of "travelers" who live in camper type vehicles, moving from place to place. Their self appointed leader has discovered a small plot of land with an uncertain ownership history, and has convinced the group that if they manage to inhabit the plot long enough, they can claim ownership.
The stage is now set for what follows. The plots in Walters' books are always hard to categorize. This is not precisely a murder mystery, although we eventually do learn the true circumstances of the woman's death, and it wasn't pretty. "Fox Evil" is a portrait of sadistic manipulation and psychological torture. The itinerant leader together with residents of the community embark on a campaign to badger the elderly widower unmercifully with an eye to obtaining all his wealth. His two estranged adult children may or may not be part of what is going on.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This author keeps us expecting her characters to act like people we know. But they don't , or maybe that is how the people we know actually do behave? Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2013 by Andrea Pheasey
I consider Minette Walters one of my favorite authors, but I didn't like this book very much at all. Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by Angel
Sorry to disagree with the enthusiastic publishers and some readers, but I found Fox Evil an utter bore, with little action, long-winded conversation that doesn't move the story... Read morePublished on Aug. 4 2003 by David Brown
Fox Evil is much better than Walters' previous novel, but I still had problems with the pacing. Walters in much of her later work has a tendency to be place too many fragmentary... Read morePublished on July 30 2003
Minette Walter's can always be counted on for delivering a satisfying psychological thriller and FOX EVIL is no exception. Read morePublished on June 12 2003 by SDRTX
Elderly Ailsa Lockyer-Fox died a curious death. One cold morning she was found in her night-dress lying dead on the terrace of her large house, the French windows locked. Read morePublished on May 13 2003 by RachelWalker