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The Devil's Feather Hardcover – August 22, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307264629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307264626
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,077,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. British author Walters's harrowing 12th psychological chiller spotlights violent suffering and hard-won triumph for Connie Burns, a 36-year-old Reuters war correspondent who crosses a sadistic mercenary alternately identified as John Harwood, Kenneth McConnell and Keith MacKenzie. When she finds MacKenzie training Iraqi policemen in Baghdad in 2004, she links him to serial killings in Sierra Leone two years earlier. An enraged MacKenzie kidnaps, tortures, rapes and releases Connie, who is then too traumatized to coherently divulge details of her abduction. She retreats to a country house in Dorset, where she puzzles over the troubled past of the house ("a place of anguish") and hesitantly befriends her neighbors, the handsome Dr. Peter Coleman and Jess Derbyshire, a reclusive young woman who helps Connie heal from her ordeal. While she gradually recovers, she also lives with the surety that MacKenzie will come after her again. Walters (Disordered Minds) delivers an intense, engrossingly structured tour de force about survival and "the secret of freedom, courage." (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

In this uneven but scary thriller, Connie Burns, a white Zimbabwean war correspondent for Reuters, investigates five gruesome murders in Sierra Leone and follows a hunch, convinced that a British mercenary is using the mayhem of war zones to disguise his taste for raping and killing women. After a mysterious assailant kidnaps her and holds her prisoner for three days in Iraq, she becomes convinced that her quarry is now hunting her. She flees to Dorset, rents an isolated house that turns out to have a troubled history, and is befriended by a reclusive neighbor who, some years before, lost her entire family in a car crash. Given the ultra-contemporary world of the early part of the novel, the scenes in Dorset, where the author herself lives, seem parochial, but this does not lessen Walters's ability to use horror-movie logic to terrifying effect.
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Customer Reviews

Please someone tell me how it ends because I cannot bear to read another page!
Bette J. Amsler
Those who have read each of Walter's previous books will welcome this one: it is amongst the best she has written recently.
Jennifer Cameron-Smith
In addition, the book is quite long and often seems to drag, with nothing much going on.
Claire McManus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Thirty-six year old Connie Burns is the protagonist of "The Devil's Feather," a psychological thriller by Minette Walters. Burns, an Oxford graduate born in Zimbabwe, is a war correspondent for Reuters. Her beat includes a number of trouble spots in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. While she is in Sierra Leone writing about the bloody civil war there, she hears that an attacker raped and savagely killed five women in Freetown. One night, she visits a local bar and spots John Harwood, a Scottish-born mercenary with a reputation for misogyny and brutality, and Burns suspects that he may have had something to do with the Sierra Leone killings. Although she has no proof to back up her allegations, Burns runs her suspicions past her colleagues. She has a few unpleasant words with Harwood before she remembers that she previously saw him in Kinshasa, where he was known as Keith MacKenzie. Why has he assumed an alias, Burns wonders?

Two years later, in 2004, Connie is in Baghdad on a three-month assignment. While visiting an Iraqi police academy, she again recognizes MacKenzie, who is now known as Kenneth O'Connell; he is a consultant on restraint and control techniques for a private security firm. When she questions the spokesman of the firm, Alastair Surtees, about MacKenzie/Harwood/O'Connell, Surtees stonewalls her. Following a hunch, Connie tours Iraqi newspaper offices, looking for stories about raped and murdered women. She finds two pieces describing crimes that Mackenzie may have committed. Connie e-mails copies of the articles to Alan Collins of the Greater Manchester Police, who warns her to watch her back. Unfortunately, the warning comes too late. On her way to Baghdad International Airport, she is kidnapped and held for three days before being released.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In Baghdad in 2004, thirty six years old Reuters' war correspondent Connie Burns is stunned when she spots British mercenary Keith Mackenzie training Iraqi police. She recognizes the instructor from an assignment in Sierra Leone two years before where she thinks he raped and killed local women. Irate that she plans to expose him, out of control Mackenzie abducts, tortures, and rapes the journalist before freeing her with a warning that he will always be near to provide her a second lesson.

Connie goes into shock unable to tell anyone what Mackenzie did to her. Needing to mentally heal, she returns to her home in rustic Dorset. She makes friends though it is really that her neighbors Dr. Peter Coleman and fellow recluse Jess Derbyshire refuse to allow her to wallow by herself. With their help she begins to regain her self-esteem and equilibrium, hoping to prepare for when Mackenzie using some other name as he has in the past will come to reeducate her.

As always Minette Walters provides an intense psychological suspense thriller that grips readers from the opening moments as the villain takes away a sense of purpose and freedom from the reporter. The tale never slows down as Connie tries to recover mentally from his assault while knowing deep in her soul he is coming for her which keeps readers in a state of anticipation awaiting their showdown. THE DEVIL'S FEATHER is Ms. Walters at her tense writing best.

Harriet Klausner
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Beverley Strong on August 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Reuters correspondent Connie Burns is used to being in the thick of wars and their consequent horrors, but is convinced that the brutal rape and murder of five women in Sierra Leone, is down to a British soldier-of-fortune who goes by various aliases. He is known to be a savage, woman hating brute who kills and mutilates for the sheer pleasure it affords him. Connie is abducted and held prisoner for three days before she is released, unharmed, but is traumatised to the point of incoherent speech and thought. She refuses counselling, as she has been shocked into the very state that her captor wished, that of a shamed, humiliated woman who blames herself for not being stronger. She leases a large house in a small village in an attempt to hide from her tormentor, making the acquaintance of only a small number of the locals who subsequently become drawn into her story and she into theirs. I can see this book becoming a movie thriller with lots of tension and mysterious happenings in the old mansion. It's a great read !!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Those who have read each of Walter's previous books will welcome this one: it is amongst the best she has written recently.

Apparently, a 'Devil's feather' is a woman who stirs a man's interest without realising it - the unwitting cause of sexual arousal.

Ms Walters keeps this story moving at a rapid pace, and it is difficult not to get caught up in a sequence of events that seem possible if not probable.

I like the twists and turns, and believe that the characters and situations described work well. A page turner, and one that I highly recommend.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on September 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While Edgar winner Walters' psychological thrillers (in the Ruth Rendell vein) are among my favorites, this is her weakest effort to date. British war correspondent Connie Burns recognizes a sadistic mercenary while on assignment in Iraq. She had met the man while in Sierra Leone two years earlier and, based on his reputation for brutality towards the native prostitutes, suspected him of the vicious murders of five women.

Though nothing came of her suspicions, she immediately resumes her digging when she spots him in Iraq under a different name. His employers stonewall her investigation and shortly thereafter she is abducted, then released after three days. Though she refuses to discuss her ordeal we know who grabbed her and as the book proceeds nothing about her horrible experience comes as a surprise.

Traumatized, she holes up in an old house in Dorset (where Walters lives), suffers panic attacks and edgily befriends a taciturn local woman who as a teenager lost her family in a car crash. The predictable stalking by the kidnapper overshadows the subplot concerning this woman and the elderly owner of the Dorset house, while the protracted ending is first, not credible, and second, way too talky. A major disappointment.

-- Portsmouth Herald
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