Though Fox Evil is the first book this reviewer has ever read by Minette Walters, it is immediately evident why she is such a critically acclaimed, award-winning author. The plot that unfolds is complex and carefully woven, but she skillfully takes readers through the tale, chapter by chapter. This is her ninth novel, but I was unable to find any evidence that her work is of the cookie-cutter quality that is often seen from many big-name authors.
Fox leads a convoy band of gypsies. He lives with a woman and her two children. The children are forced to refer to him as their father, and must never talk about the family -- the family is sacred. Out of threat of physical abuse, the boys obey their "father's" wishes. Like squatters, they take possession of an unclaimed strip of land. Fox knows their legal rights and has no plans of moving away.
Colonel James Lockyer-Fox is desperately searching for his granddaughter. When his own daughter was unwed and became pregnant, he forced her child to give up her baby. Now his granddaughter is a successful grown woman. She wants nothing to do with the Lockyer-Fox family, is perfectly content with the Smith family that raised her.
The colonel's wife, Ailsa, has died mysteriously, found dead in the garden with blood spots on the ground around her. Her husband was the obvious suspect, but the coroner tested the blood spots to reveal that it was that of an animal, clearing the colonel's name. But most people still suspect he is guilty -- and guilty of more than just the murder of his wife. They are accusing him of fathering his own granddaughter. This is why the colonel's need to meet with his granddaughter is more urgent than he lets on. Only proof from her can prove his innocence.
Great characters and the English setting make Fox Evil an entertaining read. The mystery is top-notch, the writing nearly unsurpassable. I look forward to going back and reading the rest of the Minette Walters library.