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The Walker by Jane R. Goodall

The Walker (2004)

by Jane R. Goodall

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The book starts promisingly in 1967 as a teenage girl, Nell Adams, discovers she’s been sitting in a train carriage with a dead body for her entire trip. Fast forward four years and Nell returns to London after overcoming her nightmares about her train carriage experience to take up a place at university. At the same time a series of grizzly murders starts in the city and is being investigated by a team of London's finest.

All-in-all it’s a pretty good yarn although there are one too many coincidences to make it truly believable and I found it too long (nearly 500 pages, more than a few of which could have been edited out). It also seemed to me as if every stereotype about the early 70's was stuffed into the one story which stretched the bounds of credibility for me.

However, the characters are terrific. In Nell, Goodall has created a really credible character of a person living in continuous fear of something she can’t quite name. It’s quite a brilliant depiction. Briony Williams, the newly promoted plain clothes police Detective, is not nearly as likeable (she spends too much time being paranoid about the blokes all being out to get her for me) but is an equally interesting person. Unfortunately the baddie isn’t really much of a presence at all which is disappointing as I's have liked to see what Goodall made of the darker side of human nature.

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  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
Jane Goodall’s first novel The Walker is an engrossing psychological thriller set in London during the 1970s.

It follows the parallel stories of its two main characters, newly promoted Detective Briony Williams, and Nell Adams, a young woman who witnessed a murder four years earlier.

Having recently returned to Britain from Australia to embark on a university degree, Nell tells herself she is safe in London. But then her photograph is published in a newspaper and she receives an unwelcome visit from a familiar long-haired figure.

Meanwhile, a murderer with skill as a surgeon leaves a trail of bodies arranged in poses that mimic Hogarth’s engravings. As Briony and her colleagues investigate a murderer and his links to cults, secret societies and California hippys, the killer closes in on Nell.

With a nail-biting showdown at the end, Goodall neatly sews up the Ned Kelly Award–winning novel, leaving her detective alive and ready for her next adventures in the series, The Visitor and The Calling.

While the novel is well-researched and entertaining, the fast-paced dialogue is unmistakably Australian – and the characters are as casual as a surfer on Home and Away. It’s hard to see how the dialogue would ring true for the average British reader. Perhaps this explains why the series wasn’t picked up by a British publisher. ( )
  amandaellis | Dec 3, 2009 |
Classic crime fiction in the tradition of Elizabeth George, Nicci French, Barbara Vine and Minette Walters.With an unerring eye for detail, Jane Goodall recreates the exuberant energy but also the dark underbelly of London in the Swinging 60s.Detective Briony Williams is a rookie appointed to an all-male team investigating a bizarre murder at an anatomy college in England. Her superiors constantly make her feel left out. But a killer obsessed with following Jack the Ripper soon changes that. The killer is a practised anatomist with a theatrical streak. He arranges his victims bodies in cruel parodies of famous satirical engravings by Hogarth. As the summer and the swinging 60s wind to a terrible climax, this multi-layered thriller brings the startling and terrible strands of the story together. The Walker is an unforgettable crime debut that heralds a major new voice in crime writing.
  mhall01 | Apr 2, 2007 |
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Listed in the 2005 Books Alive Great Read Guide. Winner of the 2004 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. Jack the Ripper type thriller, set in 1960s London. Australian author.

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