Excerpt from The Breaker by Minette Walters, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Breaker

by Minette Walters

The Breaker
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 351 pages
    Aug 2000, 384 pages

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Print Excerpt

Sunday, 10 August 1997 - 1:45 a.m.

She drifted with the waves, falling off their rolling backs and waking to renewed agony every time salt water seared down her throat and into her stomach. During intermittent periods of lucidity when she revisited, always with astonishment, what had happened to her, it was the deliberate breaking of her fingers that remained indelibly printed on her memory, and not the brutality of her rape.


Sunday, 10 August 1997 - 5:00 a.m.

The child sat cross-legged on the floor like a miniature statue of Buddha, the gray dawn light leeching her flesh of color. He had no feelings for her, not even common humanity, but he couldn't bring himself to touch her. She watched him as solemnly as he watched her, and he was enthralled by her immobility. He could break her neck as easily as a chicken's, but he fancied he saw an ancient wisdom in her concentrated gaze, and the idea frightened him. Did she know what he'd done?


The most widely held view is that rape is an exercise in male domination, a pathological assertion of power, usually performed out of anger against the entire sex or frustration with a specific individual. By forcing a woman to accept penetration, the man is demonstrating not only his superior strength but his right to sow his seed wherever and whenever he chooses. This has elevated the rapist to a creature of legendary proportions _ demoniacal, dangerous, predatory _ and the fact that few rapists merit such labels is secondary to the fear the legend inspires.

In a high percentage of cases (including domestic, date and gang rape) the rapist is an inadequate individual who seeks to bolster poor self-image by attacking someone he perceives to be weaker than himself. He is a man of low intelligence, few social skills, and with a profound sense of his own inferiority in his dealings with the rest of society. A deep-seated fear of women is more common to the rapist than a feeling of superiority, and this may well lie in early failure to make successful relationships.

Pornography becomes a means to an end for such a person because masturbation is as necessary to him as the regular fix is to a heroin addict. Without orgasm the sex-fixator experiences nothing. However, his obsessive nature, coupled with his lack of achievement, will make him an unattractive mate to the sort of woman his inferiority complex demands, namely a woman who attracts successful men. If he has a relationship at all, his partner will be someone who has been used and abused by other men, which only exacerbates his feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

It could be argued that the rapist, a man of limited intelligence, limited sensation, and limited ability to function, is more to be pitied than feared, because his danger lies in the easy ascendancy society has given him over the so-called weaker sex. Every time judges and newspapers demonize and mythologize the rapist as a dangerous predator, they merely reinforce the idea that the penis is a symbol of power. . . .

Helen Barry, The Mind of a Rapist


Chapter 1

The woman lay on her back on the pebble foreshore at the foot of Houns-tout Cliff, staring at the cloudless sky above, her pale blond hair drying into a frizz of tight curls in the hot sun. A smear of sand across her abdomen gave the impression of wispy clothing, but the brown circles of her nipples and the hair sprouting at her crotch told anyone who cared to look that she was naked. One arm curved languidly around her head while the other rested palm-up on the sea-washed pebbles, the fingers curling in the tiny wavelets that bubbled over them as the tide rose; her legs, opened shamelessly in relaxation, seemed to invite the sun's warmth to penetrate directly into her body.

Reprinted from The Breaker Minette Walters by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright 1999 by Minette Walters.

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