The Dark Room

( 12 )


In this acclaimed psychological mystery, Jinx Kingsley, a prominent photographer and millionaire’s daughter, wakes up in an exclusive hospital suffering from amnesia. Not only can she not remember the car accident that caused her memory loss, but she doesn’t remember that her impending wedding has been called off or that her former fiancé and his girlfriend have been brutally murdered in the same way her first husband had been ten years before. Now she must try to piece together her memories in order to ...

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The Dark Room

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In this acclaimed psychological mystery, Jinx Kingsley, a prominent photographer and millionaire’s daughter, wakes up in an exclusive hospital suffering from amnesia. Not only can she not remember the car accident that caused her memory loss, but she doesn’t remember that her impending wedding has been called off or that her former fiancé and his girlfriend have been brutally murdered in the same way her first husband had been ten years before. Now she must try to piece together her memories in order to determine her innocence. With deft psychological explorations and shocking twists, Walters brings the story to an awe-inspiring conclusion.

Suffering from posttraumatic amnesia, a respected fashion director and millionaire's daughter is placed in an exclusive private clinic after she is involved in a mysterious car accident. She soon begins to recover, but her memories are filled with desperation and absolute terror. A spellbinding tale of psychological suspense from the Edgar-winning author of The Sculptress.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A wily psychological thriller.” —Los Angeles Times“Engrossing. . . . Walters cleverly inserts small twists and new suspects at every turn, cranking up the tension.” —San Francisco Chronicle“A cauldron of suspense.” —The Denver Post“Engaging. . . . A page-turner.” —People
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British suspense writer Walters, each of whose previous books (The Ice House, The Sculptress and The Scold's Bridle) has won an award, now has a new publisher and a big promotional push behind her. Unfortunately, the new book is her weakest to date-overplotted and rather unconvincing. It rests on an interesting premise, however: its heroine, Jinx Kingsley, who has been found drunk and disoriented on an abandoned airfield in Wiltshire after apparently trying to kill herself by wrecking her car, is suspected of several murders-but can't, after her accident, remember anything that happened for several vital days. Her husband had been mysteriously killed some years before-and now her fianc and the girlfriend with whom he has been cheating on Jinx are missing. Can her powerful millionaire father be involved? And what about the man who is savagely attacking prostitutes in the area? As Jinx tries, in a local clinic run by sympathetic Dr. Alan Protheroe, to recover her memory and exorcise dark terrors hovering at the edge of her mind, several well-observed police investigators dig out fragments of her story. But that story is so complicated, and filled with such a welter of walk-on characters, many of them ultimately insignificant, that the reader loses patience. Jinx herself is not made sufficiently sympathetic to win interest, her growing affection for Dr. Protheroe seems half-hearted and the ultimate murderer, when finally unmasked, comes right out of left field. Walters is highly talented, but perhaps she is working too fast. 75,000 first printing; major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Award-winning author Walters (The Scold's Bridle, LJ 10/1/94) has another hit in this riveting, intricately woven tale of murder, jealousy, and sexual obsession. Photographer Jinx Kingsley, the adored daughter of millionaire Adam Kingsley, suffers a concussion and amnesia after an apparent suicide attempt, presumably because her fianc left her for her best friend just weeks before the wedding. But little is what it seems at first, as police learn after finding the bludgeoned bodies of Jinx's fianc and friend, then reexamining the ten-year-old unsolved murder of Jinx's husband, who also was bludgeoned to death. As the investigation reveals tangled sexual relationships and severely dysfunctional families, police focus on Jinx, and a cat-and-mouse game is played out to a shocking conclusion. Walters sets a new standard for British mysteries, with her fine characterizations and intelligent prose; she has a winner here.-Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Emily Melton
Walters' previous novels have garnered prestigious awards and rave reviews, and her fourth book may do the same. Jinx Kingsley, daughter of millionaire Adam Kingsley, wakes up in a hospital. Not only is she suffering from amnesia, but she is swathed in bandages after an unsuccessful suicide attempt--her second in as many weeks--in apparent reaction to the news that her fianceLeo has jilted her and disappeared with Jinx's best friend, Meg. Then Meg's and Leo's brutally beaten bodies are discovered, and Jinx becomes the number-one murder suspect. The cops are sure she's guilty, especially when they find out that murder has cropped up before in Jinx's life and that her millionaire father is a calculating despot who idolizes Jinx and would do anything to make her happy. Walters is masterful at tantalizing the reader with odd clues, subtle nuances, obscure hints, and titillating glimpses into the characters' checkered pasts, and she uses rapier-sharp, psyche-probing character analyses and a tightly constructed plot to further lure her readers. Too bad that halfway through the 350-plus pages of "did she or didn't she," the story loses momentum. Even though Walters pulls things back together with a slam-bang ending, the book isn't her best effort. Still, even a less-than-best effort from this popular writer is worth buying.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515120455
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 710,900
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Minette Walters

The broadcast of the brilliant film adaptations of her novels on Showcase has crowned Minette Walters the new queen of British mystery writers. Her career has been little short of astonishing: With her debut novel, The Ice House, she won the British Crime Writers' Association John Creasey Award for the best first crime novel of 1992. Her second mystery, The Sculptress, won the U.S. Edgar Allan Poe Award for the best crime novel published in 1993. In 1994, she achieved a unique triple when The Scold's Bridle was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year. Her fourth novel, The Dark Room, received further critical acclaim when it appeared in 1995. The Echo, her fifth novel, was said by many reviewers to be her best, most intriguing mystery to date. Her sixth novel, The Breaker, was similarly praised and her seventh, The Shape of Snakes, was published to rave reviews. Minette Walters lives in Dorset, England.

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    1. Hometown:
      Dorchester, Dorset, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 26, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in French, Dunelm (Durham University), 1971
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1She clung to sleep tenaciously, wrapped in beguiling dreams. It was explained to her afterwards that they weren't dreams at all, only reality breaking through the days of confusion as she rose from deep unconsciousness to full awareness, but she found that difficult to accept. Reality was too depressing to give birth to such contentment. Her awakening was painful. They propped her on pillows and she caught glimpses of herself from time to time in the dressing table mirror, a waxen-faced effigy with shaven head and bandaged eye—hardly recognizable—and she had an instinctive desire to withdraw from it and leave it to play its part alone. It wasn't her. A huge bear of a man with close-cropped hair and close-cropped beard leaned over her and told her she'd been in a car accident. But he didn't tell her where or when. You're a lucky young woman, he said. She remembered that. Forgot everything else. She had a sense of time passing, of people talking to her, but she preferred to drowse in sleep where dreams beguiled.She was aware. She saw. She heard. And she felt safe with the pleasant female voices that smoothed and soothed and petted. She answered them in her head but never out loud, for she clung to the spurious protection of intellectual absence. "Are you with us today?" the nurses asked, pressing their faces up to hers. I've been with you all along. "Here's your mother to see you, dear." I don't have a mother. I have a stepmother. "Come on, love, your eye is open. We know you can hear us, so when are you going to talk to us?" When I'm ready . . . when I'm ready . . . when I want to remember . . .Read Traffic Accident: Reported 21.45 approx, 13.6.94PCs Gregg & Hardy on scene at 20.04Location: Unused airfield, Stonery Bassett, HantsOne vehicle involved. Black Rover Cabriolet automaticReg No: JIN IX - vehicle written offDriver: Miss Jane Imogen Nicola KingsleyUnconscious & in need of emergency treatmentDriving licence gives date of birth: 26.09.59 &registered address: 12 Glenavon Gdns, Richmond, SurreyProperty Tycoon's Daughter in Mystery PileupIt was reported late last night that Jane Kingsley, 34, the fashion photographer and only daughter of Adam Kingsley, 66, millionaire chairman of Franchise Holdings Ltd., was found unconscious following a mystery car crash on the disused airfield at Stoney Bassett, 15 miles south of Salisbury. Mr. Andrew Wilson, 23, and his girlfriend, Miss Jenny Ragg, 19, happened upon the scene by chance at 9:45 p.m. and immediately summoned assistance for the unconscious woman."The car was a write-off," said Mr. Wilson. "Miss Kingsley's very lucky to be alive. If she'd been in it when it hit the concrete pillar, she'd have been crushed to death in the wreck. I'm glad we were able to help." Police describe Miss Kingsley's escape as a miracle. The car, a black Rover Cabriolet automatic, had collided head-on with a solid concrete stanchion, which was once the corner support for a hangar. Police believe Miss Kingsley was thrown through the open door of her car shortly before impact."That pillar is the only structure still standing on the airfield," said PC Gareth Hardy, "and we don't understand yet how she came to hit it. There was no one else in the car and no evidence of another vehicle being involved.Jane's stepmother, Mrs. Betty Kingsley, 65, was shocked by the news, which comes only days after the surprise cancellation of her stepdaughter's wedding. At home this morning in Hellingdon Hall, where she and Mr. Kingsley have lived for the last 15 years, she wept bitterly and said she would blame Miss Kingsley's fiance, Leo Wallader, 35, if Miss Kingsley didn't recover. "He's treated her so badly."Police admitted this morning that Miss Kingsley had been drinking prior to the accident. "She had a high level of alcohol in her blood," said a spokesman. Miss Kingsley is unconscious in Odstock Hospital, Salisbury.Wessex Post -14th June2She awoke one night with fear sucking the breath from her lungs. She opened her eyes and strained them into the blackness. She was in a dark room—her dark room?—and she wasn't alone. Someone—something?—prowled the shadows beyond her vision.What? Fear . . . fear . . . FEAR . . .She sat bolt upright, sweat pouring down her back, screams issuing in a tumult of sound from her gaping mouth.Light flooded the room. Comfort came in the shape of a woman's soft breasts, strong arms, and sweet voice. "There, there, Jane. It's all right. Come on, love, calm down. You had a nightmare."But she knew that was wrong. Her terror was real. There was something in the dark room with her. "My name's Jinx," she whispered. "I'm a photographer, and this isn't my room." She laid her shaven head against the starched white uniform and knew the bitterness of defeat. There would be no more sweet dreams. "Where am I?" she asked. "Who are you? Why am I here?""You're in the Nightingale Clinic in Salisbury," said the nurse, "and I'm Sister Gordon. You were in a car accident, but you're safe now. Let's see if we can get you back to sleep again."Jinx allowed herself to be tucked back under the sheets by a firm pair of hands. "You won't turn the light off, will you?" she begged. "I can't see in the dark."Query prosecution of Miss J. Kingsley/driving with 150mg per l00mlDate: 22nd June, 1994From: Sergeant Geoff HalliwellMiss Kingsley was thrown from her vehicle before it impacted against a concrete stanchion in one corner of the airfield. She was unconscious when she was found at 21:45 on Monday, 13th June, by Mr. Andrew Wilson and Miss Jenny Ragg. Miss Kingsley suffered a severe concussion and bruising/laceration of her arms and face when she was thrown from the car. She remained unconscious for three days and was very confused when she finally came round. She has no recollection of the accident and claims not to know why she was at the airfield. Blood samples taken at 00:23 (14.6.94) show 150mg per l00mi. Two empty wine bottles were recovered from the floor of the car when it was examined the following day.PCs Gregg and Hardy had one brief interview with Miss Kingsley shortly after she regained consciousness, but she was too confused to tell them anything other than that she appeared to believe it was Saturday, 4th June (i.e., some 9 days before the incident on 13.6.94), and that she was on her way from London to Hampshire. Since the interview (5 days) she has remained dazed and uncommunicative and visits have been suspended on the advice of her doctors. They have diagnosed posttraumatic amnesia, following concussion. Her parents report that she spent the week 4th—l0th June with them (though Miss Kingsley clearly has no memory of this) before returning to Richmond on the evening of Friday, 10th June, following a telephone call. They describe her as being in good spirits and looking forward to her forthcoming wedding on 2nd July. She was expected at work on Monday, 13th June, but did not show. She runs her own photographic studio in Pimlico and her employees say they were concerned at her nonappearance. They left several messages on her answering machine on the 13th but received no reply.Interviews by Richmond police with her neighbors in Glenavon Gdns, Colonel and Mrs. Clancey, reveal that she made an attempt on her life on Sunday, 12th June. Col. Clancey, whose garage adjoins Miss Kingsley's, heard her car engine running with the door closed. When he went to investigate, he found her garage full of fumes and Miss Kingsley half asleep at the wheel. He dragged her outside and revived her, but did not report the incident because Miss Kingsley asked him not to. He and his wife are deeply upset that she has "tried to do it again.''Both Col. and Mrs. Clancey and Mr. and Mrs. Adam Kingsley made reference to a Mr. Leo Wallader, who was until recently Miss Kingsley's fiance. It appears he left 12 Glenavon Gdns on Friday, 10th June, after telling Miss Kingsley he couldn't marry her because he had plans to marry her closest friend, Meg Harris, instead. Mr. Wallader and Ms. Harris are unavailable for interview at the moment. According to Sir Anthony Wallader (father) they are currently traveling in France but plan to return sometime in July.In view of a recent MOT certificate on Miss Kingsley's vehicle, which tends to rule out malfunction, and the fact that the chances of hitting the concrete stanchion by accident are virtually nil, it seems clear that she drove her car into it deliberately. Therefore, unless she recovers enough of her memory to give an explanation of the events leading up to the incident. Gregg and Hardy incline to the view that this was a second attempt at suicide after a drinking session in her car. Mr. Adam Kingsley, her father, has offered to pay the costs of the emergency services. Meanwhile Miss Kingsley has been transferred to the Nightingale Clinic, where she is receiving treatment from Dr. Alan Protheroe. Mr. Kingsley's solicitor is pressing for a decision on whether or not we intend to proceed against Miss Kingsley. My view is to do nothing in view of her father's willingness to pick up the tab, her disturbed state of mind, and the fact that she chose such a deserted location. Please advise.3WEDNESDAY, 22ND JUNE, THE NIGHTINGALE CLINIC SALISBURY, WILTSHIRE—8:30 A.M.How drab reality was. Even the sun shining through her windows was less vivid than her dreams. Perhaps it had something to do with the bandage over her right eye, but she didn't think so. Consciousness itself was leaden and dull, and so restrictive that she felt only a terrible depression. The big bear of a doctor came in as she toyed with her breakfast, told her again that she'd been in an accident, and said the police would like to talk to her. She shrugged. "I'm not going anywhere." She would have added that she despised policemen if he'd stayed to listen, but he went away again before she could put the thought into words.She had no memory of the first police interview at the Odstock Hospital and politely denied ever having met the two uniformed constables who came to her room. She explained that she could not remember the accident, indeed could remember nothing at all since leaving her house and her fiance in London the previous morning. The policemen resembled each other—tall, stolid men with sandy hair and florid complexions, who showed their discomfort at her answers by turning their caps in unison between their fingers. She labeled them Tweedledum and Tweedledee and chuckled silently because they were so much more amusing than her sore head, bandaged eye, and hideously bruised arms. They asked her where she had been going, and she replied that she was on her way to stay with her parents at Hellingdon Hall. "I have to help my stepmother with wedding preparations," she explained. "I'm getting married on the second of July." She heard herself announce the fact with pleasure, while the voice of cynicism murmured in her brain. Leo will run a mile before he hitches himself to a bald, one-eyed bride.They thanked her and left.Two hours later, her stepmother dissolved into tears at her bedside, blurted out that the wedding was off, it was Wednesday, the twenty-second of June, Leo had left her for Meg twelve days previously, and she had, to all intents and purposes, driven her car at a concrete pillar four days later in a deliberate attempt to kill herself.Jinx stared at her ugly, scarred hands. "Didn't I say good-bye to Leo yesterday?""You were unconscious for three days and very confused afterwards. You were in hospital until Friday, and I went to see you, but you didn't know who I was. I've come here twice and you've looked at me, but you didn't want to talk to me. This is the first time you've recognized me. Daddy's that upset about it." Her mouth wobbled rather pathetically. "We were so afraid we'd lost you.""I've come to stay with you. That's why I'm here. You and I are going to confirm arrangements for the wedding." if she said it slowly and clearly enough, Betty must believe her. But no, Betty was a fool. Betty had always been a fool. "The week beginning the fourth of June. It's been in the diary for months."Mrs. Kingsley's tears poured down her plump cheeks, scoring tiny pink rivulets in her overpowdered face. "You've already been, my darling. You came down a fortnight and a half ago, spent the week with Daddy and me, did all the things you were supposed to do, and then went home to find Leo packing his bags. Don't you remember? He's gone to live with Meg. Oh, I could murder him, Jinx, I really could." She wrung her hands. "I always told you he wasn't a nice man, but you wouldn't listen. And your father was just as bad. 'He's a Wallader, Elizabeth . . .' " She rambled on, her huge chest heaving tragically inside a woolen dress that was far too tight.The idea that nearly three weeks had passed without her being able to recollect a single day was so far beyond Jinx's comprehension that she fixed her attention on what was real. Red carnations and white lilies in a vase on her bedside table. French windows looking out on a flagstoned terrace, with a carefully tended garden beyond. Television in the corner. Leather armchairs on either side of a coffee table—walnut, she decided, and a walnut dressing table. Bathroom to her left. Door to the corridor on her right. Where had Adam put her this time? Somewhere very expensive, she thought; the Nightingale Clinic, the nurse had told her. In Salisbury. But why Salisbury when she lived in London? Betty's plaintive wailing broke into her thoughts. ". . . I wish it hadn't upset you so much, my darling. You've no idea how badly Daddy's taken it all. He sees it as an insult to him, you know. He never thought anyone could make his little girl do something so"—she cast about for a word—"silly.""Little girl?" What on earth was Betty talking about? She had never been Adam's little girl—his performing puppet perhaps, never his little girl. She felt very tired suddenly. "I don't understand.""You got drunk and tried to kill yourself, my poor baby. Your car's been written off." Mrs. Kingsley fished a newspaper photograph out of her handbag and pressed it into her stepdaughter's lap. "That's what it looked like afterwards. It's a mercy you survived, it really is." She pointed to the date in the top right-hand corner of the clipping. "The fourteenth of June, the day after the accident. And today's date"—she pushed forward another newspaper—"there, you see, the twenty-second, a whole week later."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Thrilling Psychological Story!

    This book is no exception from the author's other works: amazing. I loved the storyline, the characters, the suspense and the mystery surrounding Jinx. I couldn't wait to find out who did it and as always, Walters managed to surprise me! I also loved The Devil's Feather, Acid Row and The Shape of Snakes by the same author. You may also enjoy the mysteries of Ruth Rendell, Barbara Vine, Sue Grafton and Morag Joss.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2006

    easy to read hard to put down

    A very well written keep you guessing mystery. I look forward to reading another of her books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    Page turner from start to finish! !

    Thoroughly enjoyable read. Great plot, interesting characters, suspense and a touch of humour. I couldn't put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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