book cover of Chicken Feed
Added by 4 of our members

Chicken Feed

(2006)
(A book in the Quick Reads 2006 series)
A Novella by

 
 
When Minette Walters was commissioned (along with several other writers) to produce a book in the Quick Read series, she came up with a novel called Chickenfeed, firmly in her chosen territory: the psychology of crime and criminals. The brief was to keep things fast-moving, with no unwieldy adjectives and (if possible) seduce into reading those who have either lost--or had never acquired--the habit. Ironically, Chickenfeed, despite its brevity, reads very much like Walters' customary fare: a violent crime is committed (offstage, as it were), but the concentration is on perpetrator and victim rather than a dogged police inspector putting the pieces together.

The subject is a true story: in 1920s East Sussex, the corpse of Elsie Cameron is discovered in a chicken run. The man found guilty of the crime, her fiancé Norman Thorne, was sentenced to death and hanged. At the time of his death, doubts were cast on the verdict, and it is very much Walters' concern to address those doubts here. We're given a fascinating and detailed study of two blighted lives: Norman, living under cramped conditions, is struggling against heavy odds to make a living as a chicken farmer. The unprepossessing Elsie, prickly and self obsessed, finds it difficult to get on with her family or her workmates, and is fired from a succession of jobs. Marriage to Norman is the one thing--she comes to believe--that will change her wretched life, but although she does her damnedest to get the reluctant Norman to marry her, she withholds sex, allowing Norman to undress her and touch her naked body, but forbidding any other sexual contact. Things grow worse, as Elsie's family (keen to rid themselves of her) join their daughter in pressing marriage on the increasingly reluctant Norman. Then he meets someone else... and Elsie disappears.

This story, in its own terms, is fascinating enough, but in Walters' expert hands, the swiftest of reads is guaranteed. Some may be unhappy with her deliberately vague treatment of the grim finale of the tale, and long-term Walters aficionados will be keen for her to get back to her normal-length novels--but certainly this is a book that it is difficult to put down.
--Barry Forshaw

Genre: Mystery

Similar books by other authors

thumb
On The Rock
(Quick Reads 2016)
Andy McNab

Used availability for Minette Walters's Chicken Feed

Paperback Editions

February 2013 : UK Paperback
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed: A Quick Read
Author(s): Minette Walters
ISBN: 1-4472-0827-7 / 978-1-4472-0827-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Pan
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


March 2011 : Canada Paperback
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed
Author(s): Minette Walters
ISBN: 1-4596-1613-8 / 978-1-4596-1613-4 (Canada edition)
Publisher: ReadHowYouWant
Availability: Amazon AU   


January 2006 : UK Paperback
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed: A Quick Read (Quick Reads)
Author(s): Minette Walters
ISBN: 0-330-44031-4 / 978-0-330-44031-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Pan
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


2006 : Australia Paperback
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed
Author(s): Minette Walters
ISBN: 1-74114-919-3 / 978-1-74114-919-7 (Australia edition)
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


Audio Editions

April 2008 : UK Audio CD
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed
Author(s): Minette Walters
ISBN: 1-4074-2111-5 / 978-1-4074-2111-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


2006 : UK Audio CD

Title: Chickenfeed
Author(s): Minette Walters
ISBN: 1-84505-923-9 / 978-1-84505-923-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Clipper Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

December 2011 : Canada, UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed: A Quick Read
Author(s): Minette Walters
Publisher: Pan
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


December 2010 : Canada, UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed: A Quick Read
Author(s): Minette Walters
Publisher: Pan
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 2006 : Australia Kindle edition
thumb

Title: Chickenfeed
Author(s): Minette Walters
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Availability: Amazon AU