Random House, Inc. From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Sculptress and The Breaker comes a brilliant new novel.
It is November 1978. The winter of discontent. Britain is on strike. The dead lie unburied, rubbish piles in the streets – and somewhere in West London a black woman dies in a rain-soaked gutter. She was known as “Mad Annie” and was despised by her neighbours.
Her passing would have gone unmourned and unnoticed but for Mrs. Ranelagh, the young woman who finds Annie as she dies and who believes – apparently against reason – that she was murdered.
Whatever the truth about Annie – whether she was as mad as her neighbours claimed, whether she lived in squalor as the police said, whether she cruelly mistreated the many cats found starving in her house – something passed between the two women in the moment of death which binds Mrs. Ranelagh to Annie’s cause for the next twenty years.
But why is she so convinced it was murder when, by her own account, Annie died without speaking? Why does the subject make her husband so angry that he refuses to talk about what happened that night? And why would any woman spend twenty years painstakingly uncovering the truth – unless her reasons are personal…?
A complex puzzle of deceit and discovery, The Shape of Snakes is Minette Walters at her most intriguing.