By Minette Walters
Pan Books, 1993
Paperback, 464 pages
Rosalind Leigh is a writer who at the present moment has nothing to write about. No ideas are coming to her very quickly. When her publisher presents an idea to her to write about the brutal murders and dismemberments of two women Roz is less than thrilled, but is reminded by her publisher that the pressure is on for her to write … and soon.
With skepticism all around her, Roz goes to the prison to interview the convicted killer of the two women- twenty-three year old Olive Martin. Roz cannot believe her eyes when she sees the grotesque overweight and unattractive woman the media has dubbed, ‘the Sculptress’ because of her heinous crimes.
Olive pleaded guilty to killing both her mother and sister and then methodically dismembering them both. At first very uncommunicative in her response to Roz’s questions, over time as she begins to trust her, Olive starts to open up about her family, her own personal life but says little about the day of the murders.
Despite herself, Roz finds herself drawn into the story of Olive and her dysfunctional family. She visits the scene of the bloody crimes and takes the opportunity to speak to people concerning the case.
When a series of inconsistencies begin to pop up after her visits with the Martin’s lawyer, Roz begins to dig even deeper into the murder case. Questions abound that weren’t answered during the investigation and trial. And when Olive begins to finally open up about the fateful day, Roz is left stunned.
All at once Roz is faced with the question of whether or not the right person was convicted of the brutal crimes. Is Olive Martin a cold-blooded killer without an ounce of humanity as so many believe, or was she a pathetic pawn for a cunning killer?
Roz finds herself doing some investigating of her own and before long she is not just researching a book but trying to help save the life of a woman she believes is innocent and does not deserve to spend the next twenty-five years of her life behind bars.
The Sculptress is the second novel of English crime writer Minette Walters. In 1993 it won the Edgar Allan Poe award for the best crime novel published in America.