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Fox Evil - Minette Walters
Member Name: chrisandmark
Fox Evil - Minette Walters
Date: 10/09/03, updated on 10/09/03 (69 review reads)
Advantages: A well written, gripping read, A well respected author
And so begins Fox Evil. Out of the many characters in this book, the ones you need to know about are the Colonel, his recently deceased wife (Ailsa), his charismatic but devious son (Leo), his alcoholic tart of a daughter (Elizabeth) and one mysterious traveller called 'Fox Evil'. Add to the mix an over-enthusiastic lawyer (Mark) and Nancy, the Colonels newly found grandaughter, daughter of Elizabeth, who was adopted at birth and you can expect more twists than a 50's revival party.
Minette Walters has really excelled herself with this book. I've got to add here that I've never really been a fan of Ms Walters and only read this book because it happened to be in the house at a time when I was craving to read SOMETHING. I recently read Acid Row by Minette Walters and found it so unbelievable that I skipped about 20 pages looking for something like a plot but Fox Evil has plots in abundance.
The book starts with a graphic description of a fox being caught in an illegal trap and then tortured and killed......
'The illegal trap, a maiming device of metal teeth, sprang shut on his delicate foreleg with the biting power of a huge badger, tearing the flesh and snapping the bone. He screamed in pain and anger, lashing at the empty night in search of his imagined adversary. For all his supposed cunning, he hadn't been clever enough to recognize that the motionless figure beside a tree bore no resemblance to the patient old man who regularly fed him.'
The main plot in the book centres
around the Colonels involvement in his elderly wifes death. Ailsa was found outside in her nightdress on a bitterly cold night in the spot where she went to feed wild foxes. Since her death, someone has been leaving dead foxes in the very same spot for the Colonel to find and at the same time the phone calls start. As soon as the phone calls are first mentioned in the book you just know they're going to be a big part of the unfolding drama. When you find out the main culprits for the phone calls you'll be shocked but this is one MAJOR twist in the book - in a book full of twists!
Mark Ankerton is the Colonels lawyer who invites himself to spend Christmas at the Manor because he's concerned about the ageing Colonels health. He has been kept completely in the dark about the harassment the Colonel has been receiving and when he arrives he finds the Manor in a state of disrepair with the Colonels housekeeper (an old lady with alzeimers) not doing her job. Nancy (the illegitimate grandaughter) is a soldier based in Kosovo who has her own problems to deal with. To begin with she didn't want anything to do with her grandfather or his legacy as her adoptive parents were also on the (how can I put this?)... flush side and they had treated her so well from birth that seeing her birth grandfather held no interest for her. And when she finally does go and see him out of curiousity she finds herself dragged into his problems in a way that she'd never have imagined.
A group of travellers arrive in Shenstead Valley to claim a strip of land which has no legal owner. The travellers are led by a man who calls himself Fox Evil, who appears to them one day out of nowhere and seems to have unlimited information about both the history and people of Shenstead Valley. In particular, he seems to have a grudge against not just the Colonel but anyone associated with the Lockyer-Fox family. Fox has a son called Wolfie who is obviously very afraid of his f
ather and it turns out that Wolfie is Fox's downfall, his mother and baby brother disappeared and subconciously Wolfie hold Fox responsible. Although he doesn't know what happened to his mum, he soon learns to be very careful around Fox and when he sees an opportunity to 'expose' him, he jumps at it.
Leo and Elizabeth (the Colonels children) are both selfish, spoilt rich kids whose only aim in life is to get as much money as possible outof their father. Leo is a typical rich playboy who can charm the birds out of the trees and Elizabeth is an alcoholic - although you hear a lot about them, they're rarely seen in the book. There's a couple of phone calls to Leo and absolutely no words are spoken by Elizabeth in the whole book - but they come across as a couple of enigmatic characters and although neither have very much to say in the book, what you DO know about them becomes more and more useful as the climax of the tale draws closer. All the characters in this book are believable and although you don't like all of them, you'll be able to relate to how the minds of the people involved work.
And boy, is it a climax! All the loose ends that I spotted in the book are suddenly snapped into place, what is the connection between Fox Evil and the Colonel? Why the references to Leo and Elizabeth if they don't appear in the book? Why is such a formidable man as the Colonel so concerned about a few late night phone calls? Everything is revealed in the last couple of chapters. I can't tell you anymore about the plot because it's such a complex novel that anything else would be a spoiler. What I will say though is if you like crime books with a thriller aspect then this is the book for you. It's quite a complicated book though and you have to read each page carefully so that you can follow the storyline. It's so gripping though. It's one of those books that you can sit and read in bed when you're absolu
tely shattered and dying to go to sleep but you just keep on turning the pages. Every chapter ends in a type of mini-climax which means you can't even put the book down at the end of a chapter - prepare yourself for a few nights of less sleep than usual.
You can buy Fox Evil at Amazon for £10.39 or at WHSmiths for £12.99, along with Minette Walters other books such as Acid Row, The Shape of Snakes and The Ice House.
Thanks for reading. :o)
ps - The title for this op is the tagline of the book. :o)