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Innocent Victims: Two Novellas Hardcover – July 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews



“A Walters novel is like no other. She bases her books on facts [and] embosses with her own painstaking research and fertile imagination.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The Tinder Box is a compelling tale of prejudice and gossip [where] everything falls into place to produce a shockingly different picture than expected.” —Publishers Weekly

About the Author

MINETTE WALTERS is the author of 14 suspense novels. She is the winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger Award, among others. Her work has been translated into 26 languages. She lives in Dorset, England.

SIMON PREBBLE, a British-born performer of considerable talent and experience, has built a successful career that spans the Atlantic. As a stage and television actor he has played in everything from soaps to Shakespeare, but it is as a veteran narrator of some 275 audio book titles that he has made his mark since coming to the U.S. in 1990. Audiofile magazine has named him a “Golden Voice” and in 2004 he was named “Narrator of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. He lives with his wife in New York.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080212612X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802126122
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,343,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By boswell on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been waiting for a long time for the author to come out with new work, since she is one of my favorite authors of all time. So I was disappointed that this book consisted of one sort of true crime novella and a fictional novella that had been previously published in the UK which I had purchased at the time. However, I had forgotten the plot of the second work so it was like reading it for the first time. The second work was classic Walters. She is, in my view, the best psychological mystery writer going, and this one was no exception. It also had several plot twists that will confound even the most saavy mystery readers. The first work was a little less compelling, particularly because it was limited by the actual facts of the true case, but I still found it to be an excellent read. I certainly hope Walters comes out with a new full length novel sometime soon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PadmaPriya on March 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Walters is one of the best psychological thriller/mystery writers in the business, so I'll pick up anything she's written. It's useful for the potential reader to know that Walters was commissioned to write the two novellas collectively titled Innocent Victims. The first, Chickenfeed, was written for a scheme "designed to help non-fluent adult readers improve their literary skills through access to grown-up ideas in easy-to-read language."
Her fictionalized account of a true "crime" story from the 1920's certainly fulfills the assignment. Walters uses unambiguous language and short sentences that happily suit the characters in this heartbreaking tale of two people unable to step out of the traps they've created for themselves, as well as the needs of her intended audience. Chickenfeed was voted the Best Quick Read of 2006.

The second novella, The Tinder Box, was commissioned by the "Organization for the Promotion of Books in the Netherlands" in 1999. It was given away as part of a ploy to get readers to sample genres they don't normally read - in this case, crime novels. Walters' treatment of the story here leaves us wondering if the lies we prefer to see as truths - because we are too prejudiced or bigoted or simply too "chippy" to recognize them - aren't more criminal than the criminal behavior they're meant to disguise. They certainly create a lot of mayhem and in this small community setting. Personally, I think Walters' goes a bit overboard with the Irish protagonist's chippiness in this tale but, on the other hand, plenty of people walk this earth with blinders on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mystery reader on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I haven't read a new Minette Walters for quite a while. These were satisfying stories but not quite as intense as I expected. A good, quick read.
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Format: Hardcover
Each of these novellas offers a fascinating recreation of a notorious murder, but viewed from the perspective of time and Walters' interpretation of events. The first tale, "Chickenfeed", looks at a sensational murder case from 1924, "The Chicken Farm Murder" in a village in East Sussex. It begins in London in 1920, when unmarried Elsie Cameron, twenty-two, decides that eighteen-year-old Norman Thorne is the man she wants for her own. The inexperienced young man, too untested in the ways of the world to appreciate the dangers of Elsie's emotional volatility and unpredictable rages, accedes to her parents' suggestion that it's best to give in and let Elsie have her way. Purchasing a chicken farm in East Sussex with his father's assistance, Thorne remains a reluctant suitor but promises marriage to an impatient Elsie as he moves to the farm, hoping time and distance will prevail.

Toiling diligently while living in a shack, financial security evades Norman, but Elsie's demands increase, as does her hysteria. Nearly four years pass, but Elsie is relentless in her pursuit of a wedding. When Normal meets Bessie, an uncomplicated local girl, he realizes the impossibility of his situation with his betrothed, Elsie's weekend visits a nightmare of emotional outbursts and threats. Events culminate in Elsie's death in 1924, Thorne charged with murder. Walters describes the ill-fated romance with chilling accuracy, an eerie rendering in which the very sound of Elsie's haranguing voice becomes intolerable. Thorne maintains his innocence even as he is hanged.
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Format: Paperback
I was happy to remake Minette Walters' acquaintance. I'd been a huge fan for quite a while--I can't think of another writer who can top the trifecta of her first three books, THE ICE HOUSE, THE SCULPTRESS, and THE SCOLD'S BRIDLE, the last of which is in my "Ten Best Mysteries of All Time" list. She's quite a writer with a devious little mind. It wasn't until I went hunting around that I realized that she hasn't published a full-length book for quite some time (and I didn't really care for the last one I read, THE CHAMELEON'S SHADOW).

INNOCENT VICTIMS is composed of two novellas, CHICKENFEED and THE TINDER BOX, two very different books that show what a versatile writer she is. CHICKENFEED reminds me a bit of Norah Lofts' books, in that it based on a historical incident that Walters "solves" after the fact. This one is pretty steady; no real moments when you'll gasp, but a good read. What I found most interesting was Walters' portrayal of a character with borderline personality disorder--which I recognized as such in the book (Walters then explains it in her afterword).

The real star here is THE TINDER BOX, which shows Walters in top form as a quiet English village turns against an Irish family and makes their lives hell when one of the members is accused of killing two old ladies. This is vintage Walters, with a stunning conclusion that is reminiscent of her best work. My only complaint is that the ending seems a bit rushed ... almost as if a light switch is flipped and we go from exposition to solution. But I seem to recall that's a trademark of Walters; everything comes together, but not without some leaps in logic that the author waves her hands around. I almost wish this had been a full-length work, but I really enjoyed it and it's a reminder of what Walters can do.
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