THE WALKER - Jane R Goodall

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Jane Goodall's first book is The Walker, published originally in 2004 when it won the Ned Kelly for Best First Crime Novel.

Jane is a Brit, now living in Sydney and The Walker is based in London.

In 1967 a schoolgirl is the only witness to the killer, as they leave the train, having left behind an elderly woman's body, with her throat cut. Nell then moves to Australia with her parents, returning to London in 1971 as a University Student. She's been suffering panic attacks and required counselling ever since that day boarding the train.

In 1971 Detective Inspector Briony Williams is getting ahead in her career, seconded to the team tracking down a killer with a very theatrical streak. This killer arranges his victims' in twisted parodies of Hogarth's famous engravings, he sends body parts to the police with defiant messages and he's a very experienced anatomist. Shades of Jack the Ripper?

This is a very good book, particularly when you consider it's a first novel. It's got some good characters - both the female and male, a nicely paced plot and really interesting twists and turns. Very enjoyable.

Year of Publication
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Detective Briony Williams is a rookie appointed to an all-male team investigating a bizarre murder at the Anatomy School of Gresham College in Bloomsbury, and her superiors constantly make her feel left out. But a killer obsessed with following Jack the Ripper soon changes that.

The killer is a practiced anatomist with a theatrical streak. He arranges his victims' bodies in cruel parodies of famous satirical engravings by Hogarth, in particular The Reward of Cruelty. He sends a perfectly extracted eye to the police in a Tupperware container, with a defiant message. Meanwhile the killer has begun to track his next victim.

He is planning a reunion with the schoolgirl who found the body of his first victim in a train carriage on her way home from boarding school. The story of this girl, Nell Adams, forms the second strand of a brilliantly interwoven plot as she moves to London to start her studies at university and is pursued by the man who becomes known as the Walker. With an unerring eye for detail and a sharp turn of phrase, Jane Goodall creates the exuberant energy and the sense of possibility in these young women and in the Swinging 60s generation as a whole. And she counterpoints it with a bizarre story of ritual cruelty and the dark underbelly of London, steadily increasing the tension in a novel that is totally engrossing and a remarkable dramatic debut.

Review THE WALKER - Jane R Goodall
Karen Chisholm
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

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