This has been described as a departure in writing of her usual mystery style, and yes, The Devil’s Feather is not your usual whodunit, or anything like Ms. Walters usual style. Rather this is a gritty and compelling social and political commentary on the degradation of women worldwide. An intense sociological and psychological thriller. Sound a tad intense? Yes. Yes, it is.
It certainly had me gripping the steering wheel in frustration and rage.
The Devil’s Feather has no mysterious element to it at all, as it follows Connie Burns, a correspondent for Reuters in Sierra Leone and Iraq, on a mission to bring to light the sadistical and savage beatings and killings of prostitutes and the man she is convinced is responsible for these crimes. The man with a number of aliases travels to these war-torn countries and disfigures, abuses, shames and murders women and blames terrorist activity in his wake.
He knows Connie Burns is on to him and captures her for 3 days where he assaults, terrorizes, rapes her using viscious dogs to assist. He then releases her, shaming her to go in to hiding, but also in the end, empowering her to continue her crusade to bring him to justice.
When he tracks her location in an English countryside where she is seeking solace and healing, the considerably tense thriller aspect of the book takes over. But also the outrageous and frustrating feelings you have, as I’m certain is what Ms. Walter’s intended. After surviving a brutal ambush, the police come in and question, humiliate and accuse Connie Burns of murder and inexcusable covering up of evidence against this malicious, sadistic pyschopath. Ah, such is the way of the world isn’t it? Pardon me Mam, but you used too much force, why did you attack him with an ax? Why did you tend to the dying dog instead of calling for an ambulance for this man? Your behaviour is inexcusable. Never mind this man is responsible for brutal attacks against dozens of women in every country he sets foot in, is responsible for holding Connie hostage for 3 days and filming the humiliation and torture. Shame shame Connie Burns! How dare you?! We are talking about a man’s life here!
Here characterizations are spot on as always and it is very different than what I’ve normally read of Minette Walters, but it got my attention! There is also a little side-story with the inhabitants of the village and home she is renting in the countryside that is decent as well, and helps to curb the tension of the root of the story. And…never, ever underestimate the power and strength of women. 3 stars.