Minette Walters. The Echo. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1997. 338 pages. ISBN 0399142517.
Minette Walters is a British author of mystery novels. In The Echo she brings together a wide array of characters whose lives have intersected through murder and other crimes for decades. It begins, however, not with a murder, but with a suicide. Billy Blake has died of starvation in a woman's garage, although plenty of food was within reach. Michael Deacon begins to investigate the story, hoping to bring some meaning to the plight of the homeless. His research brings to light the years' old disappearance of two men, one after his wife's suicide and the other after allegedly embezzling 10 million pounds. He questions Amanda Powell, who found Billy, and he befriends a homeless teenager and a colleague in his efforts to track down Billy's true identity. Through the course of his research he manages to solve several other mysteries.
I found this book to be a quick, engaging read, although the coincidences throughout the plot are very far-fetched. Nevertheless, Walters brings her main characters to life, and the dialogue is amusing. Michael is believable as the lonely reporter who will follow every lead to get his story, and the other characters are well-developed. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys detective and mystery fiction.