''Sadists exist everywhere and war is their theatre,'' notes journalist Connie Burns, who while covering war in Sierra Leone meets Keith MacKenzie, a Brit mercenary she suspects of murder, in Minette Walters' thriller The Devil's Feather. Two years later, in Iraq, he kidnaps and terrorizes her for three soul-crushing days. (Walters keeps the details chillingly vague something to do with dogs and water.) Burns flees to an English country house; while awaiting her Eye of the Needle reckoning with MacKenzie, she unravels an appalling local crime. Walters gracefully balances crowd-pleasing theatrics with a wickedly ambiguous ending.