Minette Walters, The Scold’s Bridle


Minette Walters is a best selling novelist that happens to write crime. She has won numerous awards for her trade mark stand alone psychological thrillers that raise social questions. This novel was awarded the highest award for a crime novel by the Crime Writers’ Association and the Scorpion edition was only 75 numbered and signed copies in a special binding with an appreciation by Andrew Taylor.

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Minette Walters was recognized at the beginning of her crime writing career as a talented fresh voice. Her first three novels all received critical acclaim and awards from the crime writing fraternity. The Ice House (1992), her début received the John Creasey Award, followed by The Sculptress (1993) the Edgar in the USA and The Scold’s Bridle the CWA’s Gold Dagger. Minette Walters has written some fourteen novels to-date. Many of them have been televised on the small screen, including this novel in 1998 with the actors Miranda Richardson, Bob Peck and Douglas Hodge.

Plotline: Mathilda Gillespie, an eccentric recluse known for her incredible meanness of nature, is found dead in her bathtub, her wrists slashed and her head locked inside a so-called ‘scold’s bridle’, a rusted cage built with tongue clamps which was used as a torture device throughout the Middle Ages. The dead woman’s only friend, Dr. Sarah Blakeney, becomes prime suspect in her murder after police discover that she’s been left a great deal of money in the will. To clear her name, Sarah delves deep into Mathilda’s mysterious past, and subsequently unravels an intricate web of greed, abuse and depravity.

The Scold’s Bridle was recommended to us by Colin Dexter’s editor, Maria Rejt. We are pleased she did for it was awarded the Gold Dagger!  Ms Walters is an outstanding talent and has been a collected author since this book was published. These a a couple of copies unearthed in a box left to one side when we moved. Talented award-winning author Andrew Taylor provided the appreciation.


5.00 out of 5

2 reviews for Minette Walters, The Scold’s Bridle

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by “Denver Post” and “The Times”, London on April 9, 2012 :

    “This third mystery should solidify her position as one of the most impressive new talents in the field. It’s an English village mystery with a difference, about an old woman found dead in her bath with a scold’s bridle – a medieval muzzle used to silence nagging women — over her head. Walters, who is often compared with Ruth Rendell and PD James, is perhaps even more compulsively readable.”
    Denver Post

    “What her books have in common is an atmosphere of tantalising, uncertain but overpowering menace… Like her first novel, THE ICE HOUSE, her latest takes place in an English village, complete with the usual trimmings. But it is far from cosy. The trappings may be the big house, sleepy coppers, teeming family secrets and lots of gossiping; but the execution is edgy and very disturbing…(Minette Walters) is a rare talent possessed of unnerving imagination.”
    The Times

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Andrew Taylor on May 18, 2012 :

    Extract from the Appreciation by Andrew Taylor

    “Wilkie Collins, that most professional of authors, summed up his narrative technique in nine words: “Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait.” It is a technique which comes naturally to Minette Walters, as she showed in her first novel, The Ice House. The extraordinary thing about the book is that it is a first novel. Walters skilfully toys with the conventions of crime fiction. Here, in the first few pages, are the familiar trappings of the Mayhem Parva detective story – the sketchmap of the big house in its grounds beside the village, and the ladies on the terrace engaged in genteel activities suitable for an afternoon in the country attended by well-bred labradors (Benson and Hedges). But soon the narrative reaches the first of many shocks in store: the discovery of the blackened and remarkably disgusting corpse. In a typically macabre touch, Hedges rolls “quietly and purposefully in the decomposing remains of the bowels”. Nothing and no one are what they seem. Horrors are piled on horrors, reversals upon reversals. (The superabundance of twists and revelations is one of the few features which suggest that The Ice House is a first novel.) The crimes are brutish, and described with scrupulous realism. The book is populated with spiky characters who develop in unexpected directions, and who involve the reader in their lives. A love story weaves its way among the horrors, both relieving them and emphasizing them. The book defies easy categorization: it is a modern crime novel with gothic trimmings, a fairy tale with all-too-plausible monsters, a fable with a love interest. . . .The Scold’s Bridle, shows a further refining of Minette Walters’ skills. The book gives a sense of a writer in full control of her considerable and still expanding armoury of effects. She has a flair for seizing on a memorable image which not only provides the title but is integral to her story. The bridle in question is a rusting relic of conjugal tyranny – an iron framework for the head, complete with a bit to restrain the tongue, which a husband would use to silence a nagging wife in the Middle Ages. The novel opens with its 65-year-old owner, the wealthy and sharp-tongued Mathilda Gillespie, lying dead in her bath; and her head is caged with the scold’s bridle decorated with nettles and Michaelmas daisies. The book offers ample confirmation that Minette Walters is an author to relish – and one who seems to be getting better and better”.

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