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THE SHAPE OF SNAKES

Walters, Minette

3,733 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0399147330 / ISBN 13: 9780399147333
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 2001
Condition: Very Fine Hardcover
From H. W. Gumaer, Bookseller (Canandaigua, NY, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since October 10, 2002

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About this Item

Edgar Award-winning Walter's seventh novel tells the story of a young British woman's twenty-year quest for retribution and justice for the elderly black woman who died in her arms in a West London gutter; Signed by Walters on the front fly leaf; a Very Fine, unread copy in like dustjacket. Collectable. Bookseller Inventory # 001626

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE SHAPE OF SNAKES

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Very Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Fine

Signed: Signed by the Author

Edition: First Printing, First U.S. Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Twenty years after stumbling upon a black woman--an unpopular recluse known as "Mad Annie"--dying in the gutter, Mrs. Ranelagh continues to believe that the woman had been murdered and spends two deacdes trying to uncover the truth. By the author of The Breaker. 50,000 first printing.

Review:

Minette Walters is as much exterminator as novelist. With uncomfortable accuracy, her novels bring to the surface those creepy, crawly parts of the human psyche that most of us would rather keep hidden. Articulate, clever, and acutely observant, she eschews the standard trappings of psychological suspense and presents characters both vulnerable and deeply unpleasant.

Twenty years ago, M. Ranelagh found her Graham Road neighbor dying in a gutter. "Mad Annie" Butts, long persecuted for being black and for suffering from Tourette's syndrome, had had her skull shattered. So deeply did Annie's death--ruled an accident--affect M. that she has spent the last two decades secretly amassing proof that it was murder, and that the murderer lived in Graham Road. Her collection of evidence faithfully teases out the serpentine deceptions--and self-deceptions--woven into Annie's death; husband Sam, neighbors, friends, family, police, all are grist for the mill of M.'s occasionally unscrupulous research:

I suppose everyone has a pet subject that triggers their anger--with me it was my mother's wicked talent for stirring, with Sam it was his fear of Mad Annie and everything her death represented: the mask of respectability that overlaid the hatreds and the lies. He always hoped, I think, in a rather free interpretation of the karma principle, that if he refused to look beneath a surface then the surface was the reality. But he could never rid himself of the fear that he was wrong.

Although M.'s investigations focus on her neighbors (who range from eccentric to downright evil), they reveal just as much about her. Crafty, manipulative, and seething with rage, she carefully constructs her revenge on an unidentified murderer--and, one suspects, on the frustrations and limitations that define her own life.

The Shape of Snakes is both a gripping thriller and a stunning novel. Don't be surprised if it works its way into your library of favorites. --Kelly Flynn

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Harlan W. Gumaer
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