Minette Walters

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Minette Walters (2006)

Minette Walters (born Minette Caroline Mary Jebb on September 26, 1949 in Bishop's Stortford , Hertfordshire ) is a British writer . She writes crime novels of a high literary level and is generally placed on a par with the British women, PD James and Ruth Rendell , who also write psychological crime novels . She only published her first detective novel "Im Eishaus" at the age of 43. Like the next four novels that followed in the course of the year, it received prestigious literary prizes. Her novel The Cellar , which deals with child abuse, appeared in the UK in May 2015, almost eight years after her last novel.


Godolphin boarding school in 2006

Walters is the daughter of Army Officer Captain Samuel Jebb and his wife Colleen. That is why Minette spent the first ten years of her life on army bases in the north and south of England . After the untimely death of her husband in 1958, Colleen Webb was forced to supplement her small pension by doing handicrafts in order to support herself and her three children - in addition to Minette two sons. All three children won private school scholarships. Minette Walters first attended the Abbey School in Reading , Berkshire , until she received a scholarship to the Godolphin Boarding School in Salisbury . Past alumni of this boarding school include crime writers Dorothy L. Sayers and Josephine Bell .

After graduating from school, she went to Israel for a year through the volunteer program "The Bridge" , where she worked in a community and in a home for juveniles who had committed offenses in Jerusalem. She described this time as the most formative experience of her life, not least because it offered her a degree of independence that she would not have known before. She then attended Trevelyan College in Durham , which she finished in 1971 with a degree in French. She began to work for the publishing house IPC Media and worked as a journalist and editor for this company. Her editing work also included looking after the romantic doctor novels published in the publishing house . Because of her constant complaints about the poor quality of the manuscripts submitted, a colleague asked her to write some herself. Under a pseudonym that has not yet been publicly disclosed by Walters, she wrote around 30 romances about which she said;

"30,000 words long, no sex, no strong alcohol and only chaste kisses"

Minette Walters married in 1978 the businessman Alec Walters, whom she had met in Durham. With him she had two sons, Roland and Philip. She initially devoted herself to raising her children and gave up writing for a while. It was only after the younger son had left home to go to boarding school that she returned to writing.

She now lives in rural Dorchester and is a grandmother.


Her first novel, Im Eishaus , was published in 1992. Walters wrote this work for two and a half years. The novel was initially rejected by several publishers until Macmillan Publishers bought it for 1,250 . Within four months, it won the Crime Writers Association's John Creasey Award and was accepted by eleven foreign publishers. With her next two books, The Sculptor and The Shame Mask , Walters won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and the CWA Gold Dagger .

Topics that Walters deals with in her works include isolation, family conflicts, justice and revenge. Since she is more interested in why a murder occurred, her detective novels do not correspond in structure to the classic Whodunit . In an interview with the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s in 1999, she said about her work :

“I am fascinated by why there is an incredibly small minority of people who see murdering another person as the solution to a problem instead of realizing that they are creating a whole new set of new problems. And that's ultimately what I'm writing about. "

Joshua Jebb, great great great grandfather of Minette Walters

Walters has so far done without a police investigator who appears again and again, and police investigations or forensics are not the focus of her novels. Their story is usually centered around characters who are closely related. In the ice house , for example, there are three friends who live secluded in a country house; In The Sculptor , this is a seemingly normal middle-class family in which the eldest daughter is in prison for allegedly killing her mother and sister; The main characters in Die Schandmaske are embittered and oppressed women from three generations. In contrast to other contemporary crime writers, love relationships play a bigger role for her. Regardless of whether it is an existing, a failing or a nascent relationship, the fragility of this relationship is a pervasive motive. In The Sculptor , the protagonist Roz Leigh has to cope with the accidental death of her child, the infidelity of her husband and the resulting failure of her marriage; In Breakwater , a devastating marriage to a bigamist and con man causes Maggie Jenner to cool emotionally.

Walters is one of her ancestors Joshua Jebb (1793–1863), who was under the supervision of prisons as a government official. An examination of the work of her great great great grandfather led to an interest in the implementation of prison sentences. For a long time, Walters volunteered to visit inmates in prison once a week and did so even before she devoted herself to writing detective novels. Her novel Die Schandmaske is directly inspired by this activity: One of the prisoners she visits regularly, in her own words “a mountain of a man”, was accused of rape and intimidated the petite Walters solely by his size. However, he turned out to be an extremely charming and kind person during their visits. His innocence was proven before the trial, but his case was the direct inspiration for her second novel Die Bildhauerin , in which the murder suspect is a grotesquely corpulent woman whom those around her meet with so much prejudice that they are prepared to to accuse her of the murder.

In Walter's novels, reference is often made to real backgrounds or events in order to make the story more vivid and real. Walters describes herself as a "research" writer who always begins with low prerequisites and does not initially know how the story will end. But she always stays enthusiastic because she, like the reader, wants to know what happens next.


Ruth Rendell (2007)

Minette Walters claims to have read crime stories from childhood. One of the first crime writers she read was Agatha Christie ; Walters also admires the American crime writer Patricia Highsmith . She is one of the great admirers of Graham Greene : From him she learned that it is possible to write novels that are literary, but that are still legible. Walters also reads reports of actual crime very often. Walters is also influenced by PD James and Ruth Rendell. In an interview for the British newspaper The Guardian , which was conducted a few months or days after the death of these two British crime writers, she attributes the greater influence to Ruth Rendell:

“Both were very dominant personalities whose influence made this literary genre more realistic, but of the two I think Ruth had the greater influence as her originality allowed her to break new ground. Her oeuvre as a whole is extraordinary, not least because of the large number of books she has written and because of her consistently elegant style. She was a great writer. I admire her immensely and was very saddened when I heard of her death. "


Minette Walters has received the following literary prizes for her crime novels:

Detective novels

  • The Ice House , 1992
  • The Sculptress , 1993
    • The sculptor, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 1995. ISBN 3-442-30614-0
  • The Scold's Bridle , 1994
    • Die Schandmaske, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 1996. ISBN 3-442-30622-1
  • The Dark Room , 1995
    • Dark chambers, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 1997. ISBN 3-442-30650-7
  • The Echo , 1997
  • The Breaker , 1998
    • Wellenbrecher, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 1998. ISBN 3-442-30796-1
  • The Tinder Box , 1999/2004
    • In Flammen, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2000. ISBN 3-442-30882-8
  • The Shape of Snakes , 2000
    • Serpentine, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2001. ISBN 3-442-30871-2
  • Acid Row , 2001
    • The neighbor, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2002. ISBN 3-442-30969-7
  • Fox Evil , 2002
  • Disordered Minds , 2003
    • The outsider, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2005. ISBN 3-442-31078-4
  • The Devil's Feather , 2005
    • The devil's work, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2006. ISBN 3-442-30128-9
  • Chickenfeed , 2006
    • The cock's scream, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2008. ISBN 3-442-46653-9
  • The Chameleon's Shadow , 2007
    • The shadow of the chameleon, German by Mechtild Sandberg-Ciletti, Goldmann, Munich 2008. ISBN 3-442-31159-4
  • A Dreadful Murder - The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard , 2013
  • The Cellar , 2015
    • Der Keller, German by Charlotte Breuer and Norbert Möllemann, Goldmann, Munich 2016. ISBN 3-442-48432-4

Historical novel

  • The Last Hours , 2017

Film adaptations

  • 1996: Sculptor ( The Sculptress )
  • 1997: In the Ice House ( The Ice House )
  • 1998: The Echo ( The Echo )
  • 1998: - ( The Scold's Bridle )
  • 1999: Dark Chambers - Dark Room ( The Dark Room )


  • Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery - The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists . Thomas Dunne Books, New York 2011, ISBN 9780312276553 .

Web links

Single receipts

  1. a b c Interview with Minette Walters on May 9, 2015 in the British magazine Guardian. , accessed May 10, 2015
  2. a b c d Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery . P. 401
  3. quoted from Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery . P. 401. In the original: thirty thousand words Maximum, no sex, no strong alcohol and only chaste kissing.
  4. Interview with the news magazine Maclean's in 1999. Quoted from Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery . P. 400. In the original the quote is: What Intrigen me is why there is this incredibly small minority of people who see the killing of another as a solution to a problem rather than ... the beginning of an entirely different set of new problems . And that, in a nutshell, is what I write about.
  5. ^ A b Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery . P. 402
  6. a b c d Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery . P. 403
  7. ^ Martha Hailey Dubose: Women of Mystery . P. 404
  8. Interview with Minette Walters on May 9, 2015 in the British magazine Guardian. , accessed on May 11, 2015. The original quote is: Both were towering figures who brought realism to the genre but, of the two, I think Ruth was the more influential because her originality allowed her to forge new paths. Her body of work is extraordinary, not least because of the number of books she wrote, and the unfailing elegance of her prose. She was a great writer. I admired her enormously and was very upset to hear of her death.
  9. ^ British Council website on Minette Walters , accessed May 10, 2015