Great summer thriller: “The Chameleon’s Shadow” by Minette Walters

If you’ve never tried a book by Minette Walters and you like smart, chilling thrillers, The Chameleon’s Shadow is one to read.

Charles Acland, a lieutenant in the British forces in Iraq, is leading a convoy on the highway between Basra and Baghdad that is struck by a roadside bomb. Acland slowly returns to consciousness in a hospital in England, unsure of who or where he is, but wracked with pain, crippled and disfigured, profoundly angry, and fiercely isolated.  He is released from the hospital and makes contact with an eccentric but astute doctor who has her own issues, but takes a supportive interest in Acland. Meanwhile, a series of murders seems to point to this clearly unstable man, and the police are also taking an interest in him. Walters takes contemporary political and social issues and weaves them into a riveting story. The narrative is interspersed with newspaper headlines and psychiatric reports. Like Ruth Rendell, Walters creates complex characters with fascinating psychological issues. This one is a great read, as always from Walters.

2 comments on “Great summer thriller: “The Chameleon’s Shadow” by Minette Walters

  1. Years ago I read The Sculptress by Walters and the portrait of Olive was very subtly disturbing. Will there be more of that in this book?

    –Greg “The Undead Rat” Fisher

  2. Interesting you should ask that, Greg. I’ve noticed a significant change in Walters’s writing since “The Sculptress,” “The Scold’s Bridle,” and “The Ice House.” The characters in her more recent three or four books are complicated and we’re never quite sure about them until the conclusion, but they are less subtly dark than in those earlier novels. The really disturbing elements in “The Chameleon” are the war in Iraq and the general social conditions of contemporary England, as well as Acland’s physical and psychological agony. It’s affecting, but less creepy.

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