The Sculptress

Overview

In prison, they call her the Sculptress for the strange figurines she carves— symbols of the day she hacked her mother and sister to pieces and reassembled them in a blood-drenched jigsaw. Sullen, menacing, grotesquely fat, Olive Martin is burned-out journalist Rosalind Leigh's only hope of getting a new book published.

But as she interviews Olive in her cell, Roz finds flaws in the Sculptress's confession. Is she really guilty as she insists? Drawn into Olive's world of ...

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Overview

In prison, they call her the Sculptress for the strange figurines she carves— symbols of the day she hacked her mother and sister to pieces and reassembled them in a blood-drenched jigsaw. Sullen, menacing, grotesquely fat, Olive Martin is burned-out journalist Rosalind Leigh's only hope of getting a new book published.

But as she interviews Olive in her cell, Roz finds flaws in the Sculptress's confession. Is she really guilty as she insists? Drawn into Olive's world of obsessive lies and love, nothing can stop Roz's pursuit of the chilling, convoluted truth. Not the tidy suburbanites who would rather forget the murders, not an attack on her life— not even the thought of what might happen if the Sculptress went free...

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Walters mesmerizes with a sleek, exciting tale...stunning in its intensity...powerful."—Booklist

"A dark, superbly plotted tale guaranteed to keep readers up most of the night."—The Denver Post

"Creepy but compulsive...hard to put down."—The New York Times Book Review

Gale Research
The Sculptress won Walters the 1994 Edgar Allen Poe Award for best mystery novel, and was adapted and broadcast on public television in England and the United States.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This Edgar Award-winning mystery turns on the relationship between a troubled journalist and a woman convicted of a gruesome murder. Oct.
Emily Melton
Olive Martin, convicted of the brutal ax murders of her mother and sister, is the Sculptress, so-called because she spends her solitary days in prison carving tiny, grotesquely distorted human figures out of wax. Rosalind Leigh, a best-selling author with a bad case of writer's block, is told by her publisher to produce a book on the hapless ax murderess by the end of the year or else. Reluctantly, Roz interviews Olive and immediately becomes intrigued with the woman whose hideous obesity hides what Roz perceives as childishly devious intelligence. Roz begins to believe Olive is innocent of the horrible crime and, investigating her story, soon finds plenty of reasons to doubt the official police version of the killings. Walters mesmerizes her readers with a sleek, exciting tale whose slick veneer disguises a sinister, menacing evil. Stunning in its intensity, this powerful novel should establish Walters as one of today's more intelligent writers of psychological suspense.
Kirkus Reviews
Walters follows her dark debut, The Ice House (1992), with the even more striking tale of enormous, unloved Olive Martin, serving a life sentence after confessing to killing and dismembering her mother and sister. Rosalind Leigh, dispatched to interview Olive in prison preparatory to writing a book about the case, finds her unnervingly unrepentant, but finds as well suspicious discrepancies between her confession and the evidence of the crime scene and other witnesses. More and more convinced of Olive's innocence, Roz joins forces with Hal Hawksley—the retired arresting officer whose restaurant has come in for some mysteriously hard times—to dig up whomever Olive's been covering up for. The search will bring Roz up against some singularly nasty neighbors, a brace of spineless lovers, a supremely dysfunctional family—and a denouement whose horrors are touched with unexpected compassion. Walters brings a shivery mastery to the old-fashioned British whodunit, with plotting as twisted as the characters' secrets.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312953614
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.28 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Minette Walters
Minette Walters, a writer by occupation, lives in Romsey, England. Her novels include The Ice-House, which won the John Creasey Prize for Britain’s best first mystery of the year, and The Sculptress, a nominee for the Edgar Allen Poe best novel award.

Good To Know

In our interview with Walters, she shared some fascinating facts about her interests, hobbies, and favorite ways to unwind:

"I've been married for nearly 25 years, have two sons, lead a very contented life in the wilds of Dorset with horses, chickens, dogs, sheep, and write some of the darkest psychological mysteries you'll ever read! I've been described as a woman ‘whose imagination makes her dangerous to know'!"

"I have spent a great deal of time in prison over the last 14 years -- both as a prison visitor, public speaker, and teaching assistant. While I have never used any individual's case as the basis for a book, I have learned a great deal about prisoners' backgrounds and what leads them to prison. The reasons tend to be similar -- dysfunctional family life, minimal parenting, early truanting, poor literacy levels, low self-esteem, no anger-management skills, difficulty relating to others -- and many of these issues are reflected in my novels."

"My major hobby and the way I always unwind is to decorate my house while listening to the many excellent BBC stations on the radio. As a news junkie, my favorites are Radio 4 and Radio 5 -- some of whose material can be accessed via the Internet or on the BBC World Service. Enjoy, if you can find them!"

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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:

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2001

    My Favorite Murder Mystery!!!

    This book was awesome! It kept you guessing up to the last two pages!!! Wonderful!! I just ordered The Breaker.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2009

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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