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The Scold's Bridle

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  4,850 ratings  ·  92 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...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Picador (first published 1994)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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...more
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.
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
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...more
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
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
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...more
Marilyn Maya
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...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...more
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
Jerome Parisse
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

"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.

"... OR TRAGIC...more
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
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...more
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...more
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
Minette Walters presents amazing, and complicated, and varied, characters ... and they all have secrets. The initial death here may or may not be murder, but there are lots of motivated suspects.
And there are truly horrible secrets.
This was another great read by MW. So many twists and turns, that just when you think you've nailed who did it, another curve ball gets delivered. Some pretty tragic characters feeding off each other which makes the tale sobering at times, but overall a satisfying story.
I've been a huge fan of Minette Walters since I first picked up Acid Row a few years ago. Although I am not really a mystery fan, I do enjoy Walters' psychological mysteries.

Like most of her novels, this one kept me guessing until the very end. Although I had my suspicions, Walters' writing constantly had me doubting and second-guessing who I thought was the murderer. Not to mention there are several mysteries in the novel that leaving you wondering what exactly is going on here and who everyon...more
Minette Walters always writes a great story. Best of all, most of her stories are written about Mysteries in Dorset. Being very familiar with both Dorset and London, I have no problem in picturing the scenes and places in her stories. This makes them even more delightful to me.

The Scold's Bridle takes the reader into the home o Mathilda Gillespie, there is incest, and suicide (or was it), rape, thievery, murder and blackmail....and oh, who dun-nit? Thrown in, high priced call girl and drugs, a p...more
A good mystery, twists and turns every time you turn the page. I had a idea of who but every once in awhile I would second guess my idea that to me makes a good mystery.
It a great tale. Everything came nicely together at the final. The only two criticisms I have are that the murderer was not a major player in the story until near the end – and so less likely to be presumed by the reader to be guilty – and the second one (abet a small point) is that it was said that Jane goes to Hong Kong on holidays and runs into James, because “the expatriate community was so small’. There are millions of people in Hong Kong. The chances of meeting a particular person there ar...more

With the murder or suicide of a much-hated woman as the backdrop storyline, Walters's story follows numerous characters as they lie, deceive and try to find the truth. Part rekindling of a romance, part growing up, and mostly mystery; I enjoyed how Walters kept the main story present but also made me care about Sarah, Jack, Ruth, and others.

I would recommend it for someone interested in mysteries, but I wouldn't shout from the rooftops about the book. It kept me interested but lacked levity whi...more
All her books are amazing.
For once I didn't see it coming, responsible party was never on my radar. Great mystery, interesting characters with common sense. Nasty old lady found dead, wacko daughter and messed up granddaughter, a nice doctor who inherits the estate, her charming louse of a husband, and an old cop who's too good of a judge of character to have advanced in his career. Parallel with the story are excerpts of the nasty old broads diary. I'm going to try and read all of Minette Walter's books, let's hope she...more
I picked this book up at a thrift store for 10 cents, its definitely worth the read, or the 10 cents anyways. It is written by a Brittish author, which makes it interesting as far as terminology used and the dialog. The story leaves you guessing "who done it" with a few twist and turns. The use of the Scolds Bridle in a crime with a dark history was neat in a crime mystery novel. This novel did make me a little interested in checking out something else by Minette Walters.
Já há bastante tempo que não lia nada da Minette Walters, e este livro fez-me comprar + 2 dela agora na Feira do Livro ;)
Suspense do princípio ao fim, personagens bem caracterizadas, história bem escrita.
This was my first book by the author some years ago. I remember enjoying her writing style very much. So much so that I wanted to note down several expressions. The plot itself was ok--it was mostly memorable for its title as I'd to check what it meant--a metal head-cage of sorts used to quieten women! It was just how Walters wrote that made me look for her books. I didn't find The Echo at all remarkable in any way. I'd like to read more to form a more complete opinion.
Back when the cable channel A&E was actually watchable, they use to show mystery movies. One of the ones I watched was based on this novel. The movie was good, the novel is good - not great, but I'm not upset I read it. I liked the dual story lines, one working forward, the other backward. I also, though, found it somewhat empty. But it was enjoyable enough light read.
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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
More about Minette Walters...
The Sculptress The Ice House The Dark Room The Shape of Snakes Acid Row

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