The Chameleon's Shadow
By Minette Walters
Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307264633, 384pp.
Publication Date: January 8, 2008
List Price: $24.95*
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When British lieutenant Charles Acland returns home from Iraq, his serious head injuries are the outward manifestation of a profound inner change: he may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or it may be, as his psychiatrist suggests, “the prolonged destruction of a personality.”
Though previously well adjusted and known as an extrovert, Acland now withdraws into himself. As he begins his recovery in a dismal provincial hospital, crippled by migraines and suspicious of his doctors, he grows uncharacteristically aggressive—particularly against women, and most particularly against his ex-fiancée. Finally, rejecting medical advice to undergo cosmetic surgery—opting, instead, to accept his disfigurement—and cutting all ties to his former life, he moves to London. There, alone and unmonitored, he sinks into a quagmire of guilt and paranoia—until an outburst of irrational, vicious anger brings him to the attention of the local police: they are investigating three recent murders, all of them apparently motivated by the kind of extreme rage that Acland has exhibited.
Now under suspicion, Acland is forced to confront the issues behind his desperate existence before it’s too late: Has he always been the duplicitous chameleon that his ex-fiancée accuses him of being? Can he control this newly apparent sinister side of his personality? And why, if he truly hates women, does he in the end seek help from a woman—someone as straightforward and self-disciplined as he is unsure and seemingly out of control—to repair the damage to his mind?
In its timeliness, its psychological complexity, and its unstoppable suspense, The Chameleon’s Shadow is a thriller of the first order.
“Suspense-filled . . . This multi-layered story by England’s best-selling female crime writer blends current events, the politics of sexual relationships and the development of personal identity into a psychologically compelling novel.”
“A Walters novel is like no other. She bases her books on facts gathered from real life [and] then embosses with her own painstaking research and fertile imagination . . . The revelations are astounding.”
“A sizzling psychological thriller.”
“Solid plotting, superb characterization, and fascinating information on traumatic brain injuries make this compelling thriller a sure winner . . . Walters’ latest suspense tale mixes the creepiness of [an] old noir movie with a contemporary, ripped-from-the-headlines exploration of the aftereffects of traumatic brain injury on soldiers.”
Praise from the UK & Canada:
“What marks Minette Walters out from the rest is not just the complex yet utterly convincing psychological profiles she draws of her characters, but the fact that she really gets into the heads of some disturbing people . . . No wonder she is the country’s bestselling female crime writer. But even this label does not do justice to the scope and breadth of her gripping, terrifying novels. The Chameleon’s Shadow is another classic.”
“Minette Walters is one of crime fiction’s finest creators of character. That ability is on full show in this novel of trust and fear . . . All the characters are beautifully built, and Acland is a brilliant creation . . . If you like a character-driven crime novel with great psychological depth, you’ll love The Chameleon’s Shadow.”
–Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“An accomplished psychological thriller . . . The Chameleon’s Shadow is as frightening and as compulsively readable as Walters’s previous novels, with as ingenious a plot.”
–Times Literary Supplement
“Minette Walters holds a unique place in crime fiction today. That’s because she does so much more than produce tense crime thrillers . . . This is another page-turner and another novel which will deservedly take its place on the bestseller list.”
“Minette Walters is an adventurous novelist . . . In The Chameleon’s Shadow, [she] leads us to the answer with her usual disturbing ability to look into damaged minds.”
–The Times (London)
“A disturbing and fascinating thriller . . . Walters's characters ring true whether she’s dealing with a career-obsessed young army officer, a teenage thief or a dirty old man edging towards senility.”