Cover image for The breaker
The breaker
Walters, Minette.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [1999]

Physical Description:
351 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The acclaimed author of The Echo spins a hypnotic tale of mystery and intrigue. After a woman is brutally raped and murdered--events to which her mute three-year-old daughter was a witness--the police turn their investigation on the victim's husband.

Author Notes

British mystery writer Minette Walters began her literary career as a sub-editor at a romance publishing company. She wrote short stories and romance novels for a time before turning to writing mysteries.

Her first mystery novel, The Ice House (1992), won the John Creasy Award for Best First Novel. Later novels have also been award winners. Scold's Bridle won a CWA Gold Dagger and The Sculptress (which was made into a BBC television play) won an Edgar Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

British novelist Walters, who came out of nowhere several years ago to become one of the crime genre's most popular authors, just keeps getting better. Her latest is a wonderfully convoluted whodunit that will perplex even expert villain spotters. The body of a young woman is found on a beach. A three-year-old girl, apparently drugged with some sort of sedative, is then discovered wandering through the nearby town. Police soon determine that the dead woman is the girl's mother. But what were they doing so far from home? And who killed the woman: her husband, an unsavory actor friend, or someone else? As police investigate, they sink deeper and deeper into a sordid tale of sexual deviance, obsession, and desperation. Accordingly, the novel itself grows more and more unsettling, reaching into areas that would be quite distasteful were it not for Walters' intelligent way of handling her subject matter. Her characters are carefully constructed: they're real people, not crime-novel stock figures (would-be actor Stephen Harding, the prime suspect, and Nick Ingram, one of the police investigators, stand out among the large cast). This fine novel is sure to be a best-seller, and it deserves to be. Not only Walters' fans but anyone who likes a smart, well-constructed mystery will be spellbound until the final scenes have been played out. Multiple copies will be a must. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Walters's novels (The Echo, 1997, etc.) depict complex, fallible people caught in intricate plots whose course and solution defy guesswork. Here, a woman's body washes up on the Dorset coast; then a toddler is found wandering alone in the nearby town of Poole. Initially, the investigation identifies two suspects, later a third, with both the police and the reader unable to establish definite means and opportunity, although all three suspects have motives. The dead woman, Kate SumnerÄwho had been raped and strangled, her fingers broken before she drownedÄwas chameleonlike: a greedy, malicious social climber, but an attentive wife and loving mother. Her husband may be a browbeaten yet adoring spouse, but his child fears him and his alibi is questionable. One suspect, Steven Harding, is a self-absorbed, sex-obsessed actor and a compulsive liar, but there's little evidence of his rumored affair with Kate. His friend Tony Bridges is a respected high school chemistry teacher with a heavy dope habit and a yen for his female students. The local constable, Nick Ingram, whose lack of ambition hides a probing mind and sharp insights into the human psyche, is immersed in the perplexing case. His investigation reacquaints him with stableyard owner Maggie Jenner, whose marriage to a confidence man shattered her family and its fortune, for which she unreasonably holds Nick responsible; Maggie and Nick's slow, witty courtship is one of the great pleasures of the novel. Each time the police develop a strong case against one suspect, the evidence shifts, pointing to another. Finally, a clever analysis of events and of human motivation leads them to the guilty party. This is psychological suspense at its best, engendered in a novel whose sinuous plot and enigmatic characters will captivate readers as surely as newfound love. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A woman is found dead in the water and her little girl abandoned‘too close for comfort to the sailboat of a troubled young actor the mother was evidently seeing. But then the little girl seems awfully frightened of her dad. Walters tries for another Edgar Award. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.