‘The Tinderbox is a short story by Minette Walters which is based on a true crime. It has the feel of one of her full-sized novels. I’m amazed that so much murder prejudice and bigotry can be crammed into so few pages and still result in an enjoyable read.
Cynthia Haversley is the most bigoted of the residents of Sowerbridge in Hampshire. She believes they should be able to interview prospective house purchasers to keep undesirables out of the village. Siobhan Lavenham believes that such interviews would be more likely to discourage people from wanting to live with the current residents.
Siobhan is the only person who has ever stood up for the O’Riordan family. Liam and Bridie are both on disability pensions and their son Patrick is mostly unemployed. Their yard is full of derelict cars, and worst of all they are Irish and Catholic. Siobhan has even hired their niece – Rosheen, as her nanny.
When elderly Lavinia Fanshawe (related to several people in the village) is murdered along with her live-in nurse Dorothy Jenkins, the village residents see Patrick O’Riordan as the obvious suspect and the police agree. But, Siobhan is not certain and thinks the police have cut a few corners.
The hate campaign against Bridie and Liam O’Riordan escalates as time draws nearer to Patrick’s trial. Eventually the greed and ambition of two people push the situation too far with disastrous consequences.
This was a brilliant story, particularly as it was contained within such a short space. The end was totally unexpected. It reminded me of why I love reading anything written by Minette Walters.
Book Published 1999