Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I love how Minette Walters blends into her narratives e-mails, letters, medical reports, and newspaper clippings ostensibly written by or about her characters. With The Echo, she takes that one step further, by making the main character a journalist. Michael Deacon works for a newspaper that's trying to claw its way back to relevance with an article on Amanda Powell who found a dead homeless man in her garage six months earlier. Ms. Powell, it turns out, was the wife of a man who went missing several years earlier, and the man who died as Billy Blake was about the age Ms. Powell's husband would have been. Did she kill her husband, and was her husband Billy Blake? And if not, what happened to her husband and who was Billy Blake and why did he crawl into Ms. Powell's garage to die? With the help of a homeless teen, a retired lawyer, and a lonely photographer from his paper, all of whom adopt him in one way or another over the Christmas holidays, Deacon teases apart the coincidences and intentional acts which led to disappearances and deaths. Walters also creates a suspect so cold and unpleasant that we hope she's guilty, but manages to avoid the most obvious solution. The Echo is not quite up to the level of Walters best work, but it's an above average mystery and a nice diversion for a cold afternoon.