The last book of this cycle for our mystery and crime fiction series is my perennial favorite read, Minette Walters. Our group has been reading Walters for years, one book a round, and we have made our way up to book ten, Disordered Minds. First published in the U.K. by Macmillan in 2003, when it reached our shores it was published as a Berkley paperback in 2004.
It is the story of a murder that took place in 1970 when a mentally challenged man named Howard Stamp supposedly stabbed his grandmother to death. When he commits suicide three years later, he successfully closes the book on any question about his guilt. For everyone, that is, except George Gardener, a councilor from Bournemouth in Dorset who believes there were some mitigating circumstances in Stamp’s case. This issue is brought to the present day when London anthropologist Jonathan Hughes includes the Stamp case in his books, Disordered Minds, and draws the attention of George.
What makes this book such an interesting one to discuss is that the troubles of George and Jonathan, and their individual challenges, are perhaps more fascinating to the readers than actually determining who did it. This is Walter’s secret: she creates characters who challenge. Whether it is their sexuality, their race, their psychological makeup or their destiny, they write their own questions if your group is willing to read one of the greatest crime writers of our time.