The Turn of Midnight – Minette Walters

IT WAS a shame when Walters gave up writing modern-day crime thrillers because she was one of our best authors of page-turning thrillers.

On top of the captivating concepts, it was characters that drove her novels: why they did what they did, their actions twisting the plots in ways both surprising and believable, and as a result making her stories ever-more gripping as they went on.

Walters returned to the world of fiction two years ago with The Last Hours but to the setting was very different - a rural community hundreds of years ago that locked itself the way in order to survive the Great Plague.

But at heart the novel wasn’t so different to her previous ones: she was writing about a community under pressure, and how characters reacted to the challenge of the situation.

The Last Hours dragged a little in the second half, but Walters was setting up the story for the next instalment

The Turn Of Midnight begins immediately after the first novel and in the first few chapters I wondered whether there would be more of the same tedium, until a burst of action and a couple of new characters finally kickstarted the story.

But there’s more padding to come, half of the main characters roaming the countryside in much the same way they did in The Last Hours, Walters describing everything they do in far too much detail.

Meanwhile back at the manor house, Lady Anne has her own struggles, but the more dramatic aspects of life in this enclosed community – highlights of the first novel – are hardly mentioned.

The novel picks up in the second half as our heroes come together in another town, facing off against another community in a crowd-pleasing climax that is much like a courtroom drama.

David Knights