THE BREAKER by Minette Walters


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When the binoculars that young Paul and Daniel Spender have snitched from their father first give them a glimpse of the body of Kate Hill-Sumner in Chapman’s Pool, off the Isle of Purbeck, three other people are also close by: a self-styled actor whose specialty is gay pornography; a horse-boarder whose swindler husband has run off with all her money; and a teenaged girl aboard an offshore boat idly looking for something to videotape. All three will soon be caught up in the Dorset constabulary’s relentless probe of the dead woman’s secrets. But the most shocking presence is an absence: Kate’s toddler Hannah, who’s found wandering the streets of Poole. Why would an assailant brutally rape and disfigure Kate and set her daughter free several miles away? In fact, since Hannah screams at any man’s approach, who could have attacked Kate while her daughter was near? And how many lies are the shocked widower, pharmaceutical chemist William Sumner, and Steven Harding, the actor who insists that Kate was stalking him, going to tell? In a brilliantly merciless series of interrogations, Purbeck Constable Nick Ingram and Dorset Inspector John Galbraith strip away layer after layer from the artfully constructed lives and personalities their suspects have made for themselves, bringing a ferocious intensity to the question of who killed Kate. Once again, Walters (The Echo, 1997, etc.) breathes new life into the classic whodunit by treating the cast as agonized—and this time monstrously immature—human beings. (Book-of-the-Month main selection)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-399-14492-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1999


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