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The Scold's Bridle

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  6,588 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award

Dr. Sarah Blakeney is one of very few mourners when her grumpy old patient, Mathilda Gillespie, dies at home in the bathtub, apparently of suicide. The old woman has taken barbiturates, slit her wrists, and bound her head in a rusted contraption called a scold's bridle, a cage with tongue clamps used to torture women in the Middle Ages. T
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Picador (first published 1994)
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Oct 19, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christine by: Janet personally, her fav.
4.5 stars

This is the first time I have read a book written by British author Minette Walters. I thank my friend Janet for recommending her to me. The Scold’s Bride is a beautifully penned mystery. Ms. Walters writes rich literary prose that is such a joy to find in the mystery genre. Though I have not read Ruth Rendell or P.D. James, I have seen other readers compare Ms. Walters’ style to theirs. This is high praise indeed.

The main plotline deals with whether Mathilda Gillespie, considered by m
Deborah Pickstone
Third novel by Minette Walters. Unputdownable - I consumed it voraciously in half a day. She gets better and better with every book she writes (with the exception of the short novels she wrote later which format does her style no favours). Psychological brinkmanship without ever making the reader feel queasy. Jack is the best male character I have read in a while and certainly one of my top 3 characters for this year! There was just one moment in this novel when MW almost dropped the ball - muff ...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 2.875* of five

The Book Report: Mathilda Gillespie reminds me of my female relatives: Argumentative, judgmental, unforgiving, grudge-holding, it any wonder Mathilda turns up very, very dead? She's so dead, in fact, that no one with a grain of sense could mistake her overkilling for anything but murder. Her daughter and granddaughter, lucky recipients of Mathilda's viciousness all their lives, are logically suspected of doing the old bat in so as to inherit her dragon's hoard
Jan 27, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We have another winner from the pen of Ms Minette Walters. I am seeing a bit of a pattern though. Like the "The Shape of Snakes" this one involved a woman doctor who befriends a woman whose nasty personality made her a very unlikeable person and who winds up dead under suspicious circumstances. In both stories the doctor is having marital difficulties that bear on the case and in both, a police detective becomes interested in the doctor and the case. But there the similarities pretty much end. D ...more
Mar 16, 2011 Sharon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thriller
Very silly. Convoluted ... totally unbelievable twaddle.

I have been told that her other books are better but this was my first read of hers and definitely my last.
Kim Greenhalgh
Jan 16, 2014 Kim Greenhalgh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Minette Walters is a shining star of the mystery genre. She creates intelligent, interesting and complex characters full of as much evil venom as goodness and light. The Scold's Bridle is yet another example of her boundless talent. There is plenty of darkness, I can assure you, so if you possess a weak heart for the horrific criminal nature found in mens' hearts you may want to think twice before indulging.

I found this book to be particularly thought provoking. There were so many twists and tur
Mar 19, 2012 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Button pushing, convuluted, annoying. I'm probably not the best person to review crime thrillers or whatever these kind of books are called. They bore me intensely.
Pretty well everyone in this book was just annoying and I spent way too much time in their company. There was a lot of plot twists around incest, psychology through art, rape, beastly families, inbred upper classes and sniping, groping lower classes. I got intensely bored with the whole thing until it was finally all wrapped up in a f
Jun 11, 2008 K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysterycrime
A rich old bitch is found dead in her bathtub with slit wrists and wearing a scold's bridle, a device for female punishment used during the 16th-19th centuries, consisting of a metal headpiece with a bit to silence quarrelsome women's tongues. The mysteries she leaves behind: Was it murder or suicide? Why'd she leave her money to her doctor rather than her daughter and granddaughter? What is the symbolic significance of the bridle?

A total page turner. I dug it.
Jun 12, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

"Few tears fall when rich, spiteful old Mathilda Gillespie's bloody corpse is found in her bathtub, her wrists slit and the ancient scold's bridle clamped on her head. It seems Mathilda's favorite heirloom was also an instrument of torture from the Middle Ages, an iron cage used to gag yapping women. Among the Dorset villagers, only Sarah Blakeney, Mathilda's doctor for her final year, seems even mildly disturbed that the miserable nag has been muzzled forever.

The Cats Mother
This is about the third of hers that I've read and I've enjoyed all of them. She again features a GP as her heroine, who gets caught up in a murder mystery when an elderly woman is found dead in her bath wearing a medieval instrument of torture. The victim was universally disliked and had a difficult relationship with her daughter and granddaughter who are then shocked to find the will reveals she left everything to the GP. The story is revealed in layers, and entries from the victims diary goin ...more
Sep 16, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a mystery more complex, clever and ambivalent than I remembered it to be from my previous reading when it first came out. Minette Walters created one of her monsters in the victim and revealed her to us bit by teasing bit. The usual humane approach and appealing characters provide balance and welcome relief. I loved every paragraph of it.
Han Le flueff
I read this book in high school, and used it for an English book report. The story has always stayed with me; for me it is a classic, one of the first "who dunnits" I ever read and loved. The use of the scold's bridle in the suicide/murder is just so wonderfully original and the author had me guessing at the culprit until the very end. Highly recommend.
Nov 01, 2012 Anita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm so pleased I have finally finished this book, and having got to the end I wonder why I persevered. Not one of Minette's better books. Over and over went the the topics of who had which baby, who was sleeping with who, who may have be the murderer. By the end - actually by about half-way - I just didn't care.
Asghar Abbas
Dec 12, 2015 Asghar Abbas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

One of Walters's most engaging, sharpest, in fact one of the best books in British crime fiction. And Given my affinity for the name Sarah, I enjoyed this even more. Such a strong name.

Really engrossing book, loved it.


gladly accepted this offering of hers.
Lana Glover
Oct 11, 2010 Lana Glover rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to stop reading this one about halfway through. All of the characters were so annoying, I just really didn't care who did it. I usually like Ms. Walters books, but this one was awful. Thud.
better than ice house
Mar 13, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Page-turnery tosh, entertaining.
Jul 16, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Kaethe
Kaethe saya: 'better than ice house'
Fontwell, UK. Zwei Tage liegt die Fünfundsechzigjährige Mathilda Gillespie tot in der Badewanne, als sie endlich mit einer Schandmaske auf dem Gesicht gefunden wird. Mathilde war schwer krank und hatte starke Schmerzen. Hat sie sich selber umgebracht und ihren Tod so in Szene gesetzt?
Ihre Hausärztin Dr. Sarah Blakeney, glaubt nicht an Selbstmord zumal Mathilda Sarah vor kurzem als Alleinerbin ihres Vermögens eingesetzt hatte und keiner einen Vorteil davon gehabt hätte, sie zu töten. Obwohl die H
Das Buch: In einem kleinen englischen Ort wird eine ältere Frau auf ihrem Landsitz tot aufgefunden. Auf den ersten Blick erscheint Suizid als Todesursache. Doch was soll die mit Blumen geschmückte Schandmaske, ein mittelalterliches Folterinstrument in Form eines Metallkäfigs, auf dem Kopf der Toten? Schnell wird das Testament eröffnet, doch es fällt anders aus als erwartet. Die Hausärztin erbt das gesamte Vermögen; Tochter und Enkelin hingegen gar nichts. Schnell fällt der Verdacht auf die drei. ...more
Marilyn Maya
Jul 10, 2014 Marilyn Maya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me say first I love this author. She knows the workings of the mind more than most therapists. She writes long sentences and is quite literary so if you don't go for that, you won't want to put in the time it takes to savor this book.
I don't like to give synopsis” when I write a review because you they are easily looked up. What I like to do is say why I liked or disliked a book and for what reasons.
The book wasn't perfect, perhaps a longer than it had to be and I picked out the probable cu
Jerome Parisse
Dec 06, 2010 Jerome Parisse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Minette Walters is good. This is the second book of hers that I read, and I must say that I enjoyed it tremendously. Walter’s writing is witty, her dialogues are truer than life, and her characters are diabolical. The plot in this one was flawless and I was kept guessing until the end who had committed the murder – I even wondered if it was murder at all! There seems to be a recurrent pattern of incestuous relationships in Walters’s books, but I’ll have to read more to see if this is true. In an ...more
Renata R.
Nov 20, 2014 Renata R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A rich woman is dead. Lots of money is envolved.
Blackmail, murder and cruelty were no stranger to the dead woman but what made her this way?
Mathilda gathered enemies while alive and they can't suppress a little smile when they hear the news of her death.
Various motives and gossip confuses the police. Will they be able to sort out the real reason and catch the killer?

When I first saw the cover of this book I expected thriller and gore but I couldn't be more wrong.
Although murder and police are in
Jul 17, 2015 Geraldine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2015
Enjoyable read. Seemed quite long, although the story moved along at a steady pace.

When I was reading it, I found the characters plausible and sufficiently deep, but after I had finished, I did think, frankly, do these types actually exist. Perhaps they do, but nevertheless I was left with a lingering feeling that they were caricatures of types.

(view spoiler)
Aug 14, 2010 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When senior Mathilda Gillespie commits suicide, no one in her village seems to mind very much except her doctor, Sarah Blakeney; one of the few people who’d actually liked Mathilda. Sarah finds it odd that Mathilda died by cutting her wrists in the bath while wearing a scold’s bridle entwined with flowers. That she wore a barbaric contraption once used to silence talkative women is strange in itself, but how would she have managed to carefully weave the flowers all the way around her head, espec ...more
Dec 09, 2014 Elke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Die Schandmaske' beginnt wie ein klassischer Krimi mit dem Fund der Leiche. Was erst wie ein Selbstmord erscheint, wird bald zu einem Mordfall, denn schliesslich gibt es plausible Motive und ausreichend Verdaechtige. Die Verstorbene Mathilda Gillespie hinterlaesst ein nicht unerhebliches Vermoegen, und ihre ungeliebte Tochter ist auch schon zur Stelle, um das Erbe anzutreten. Doch mit der Testamentseroeffnung kommt die ueberraschende Wendung, denn als alleinige Erbin ist die Aerztin benannt, di ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Minette Walters does it again. Sets up a group of disagreeable people, people that you dislike and then makes you care about them. Mathilda Gillespie is found dead in bathtub with slashed wrists, surrounded by nettles and Michaelmas daisies, and most disturbingly of all, a Scold's Bridle on her head. A scold's bridle was an instrument of punishment for a gossiping or nagging woman. It consists of a cage with a spiked plate that is inserted in the mouth. As long as the woman does not speak, the s ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Scold’s Bridle, by Minette Walters,a-minus, Narrated by Sharon Williams, Produced by Brilliance Audio, downloaded from

“Scolds” is a rude woman, middle English. “Scolds Bridle”An instrument of punishment used on “scolds” consisting of a metal frame to enclose the head having a sharp metal gag or bit entering the mouth and restraining the tongue.” In this book, the murder victim owned, as part of her inheritance a Scolds Bridle which had been in her family for generations, and whi
Robert Beveridge
Minette Walters, The Scold's Bridle (St. Martin's, 1993)

A woman is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, with a medieval torture device strapped to her head, a garland of flowers straight out of Shakespeare wrapped around it. Did she commit suicide, or did she have help?

Sounds like the basis for a bang-up mystery, no? Combine with one of today's hottest mystery writers, Minette Walters, and you have a surefire recipe for success. And yet, something doesn't quite gel. I'm not sure what it is, r
Dec 12, 2011 Lénia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Muito longe do género de policiais a que me tenho vindo a habituar, posso dizer que este 'A Máscara de Desonra' custou a envolver-me... É certo que tem diálogos muito bons, mas considero que algumas das acções paralelas à trama principal são desnecessárias, alongando a história de uma forma que, sinceramente, não me 'agarrou'; em determinadas alturas senti mesmo que a escritora estava meramente a 'encher chouriços'. Quanto ao desenlace, posso dizer que não me surpreendeu: praticamente desde o in ...more
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Minette Walters (born 26 September 1949) is a British mystery writer. After studying at Trevelyan College, University of Durham, she began writing in 1987 with The Ice House, which was published in 1992. She followed this with The Sculptress (1993), which received the 1994 Edgar Award for Best Novel. She has been published in 35 countries and won many awards.

The Sculptress has been adapted for tel
More about Minette Walters...

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