The Ice House is a great psychological thriller. It was the first book published by Minette Walters and it is easy to see why it won the CWA John Creasey Award and why the book has been adapted for TV by the BBC. Walters continues to get even better in her later books and is currently working on a new novel.
Three women in their forties (Phoebe Maybury, Diana Goode and Anne Cattrell) live in an English country estate (Streech Grange), where they are shunned by the nearby villagers and regarded as lesbians, witches and murderers. When their gardener finds a semi-decomposed body in the ice house on the grange the police are immediately called in, and memories are re-awakened in the grange residents, the police force and the local villagers of the disappearance, ten years earlier, of Phoebe Maybury’s husband, David.
Having failed to prove that Phoebe murdered her husband ten years earlier, Chief inspector Walsh is eager to prove that Phoebe, Diana and Anne are responsible for the murder of the body in the ice house, and if possible to prove that the body is that of the missing David Maybury.
Walsh’s assistant, Detective Sergeant McLoughlin initially clashes with the three women, but as the investigation progresses, his feelings for Anne Cattrell draw him into a deeper look at their lives. Eventually McLoughlin finds tangled himself in the thick of things and discovers secrets about the women and their children that he’d probably be better off not knowing.
I love the characters in this book. No-one is quite what they seem when you first look at them and all the characters have a darker side – there are none of the perfect people you often find in books. I wonder if modern day police integrity commissions would let either McLoughlin of Walsh get away with their policing methods.
Minette Walters is one of the best crime authors around and I can’t wait until her new book is released.
Book Published 1992