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The Ice House Hardcover – July, 1992

59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Walter's zinger of a debut deftly dissects the lives of three reclusive English women who become the subject of censure and speculation during a murder investigation. After a rotting corpse is found in the ice house of Streech Grange, Chief Inspector Walsh sets out at once to prove it is the body of David Maybury, whom wife Phoebe was suspected of murdering when he was reported missing years earlier. Since no body was ever found, Walsh deduces that Maybury returned and was killed by Phoebe or one of her friends, Anne and Diane, who live with her at the Grange. Detective Sgt. Alan McLoughlin, however, isn't so sure, especially after the coroner says the dead man was older than David and the local belief that the three women are a lesbian menage a trois turns out to be untrue. But McLoughlin can't understand why the Grange's residents make the investigation so difficult by refusing to answer questions and sometimes openly lying. Walters skillfully brings together the relationships between the women and the policemen into a complicated but believable puzzle, which she solves with panache.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Ten years ago, Phoebe Maybury's hateful husband David disappeared from Streech Grange after his wife caught him in bed with their traumatized daughter Jane. Now a naked, unidentifiable corpse has been discovered in the icehouse on the Grange, and Inspectors Walsh and McLoughlin have to decide whose it is, whether he was murdered, and who killed him. The cozy British setup is countered by an unremitting ferocity of tone, as Walsh--who planted the story years ago that Phoebe killed her husband--and McLoughlin slug it out with Phoebe and her aggressively lesbian companions, interior designer Diana Goode and magazine writer Anne Cattrell. For good measure, McLoughlin, stung by Anne's accurate taunts that he's fallen for her, also tangles with unblushing liar Maisie Thompson, whose husband has done a bunk (could that corpse be his?); with his long-unfaithful wife; with the village queer- bashers; and finally with Walsh himself. Unholy passions seethe inches beneath a proper surface: a brutal, literate debut--especially welcome to fans of Ruth Rendell.(I) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martins Press; 1st edition (July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312078013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312078010
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a great book! The award-winning THE ICE HOUSE is a thoroughly entertaining novel filled with some of the wittiest prose and sharpest dialogue I've ever read. Minette Walters is a gifted writer; her narrative is lucid as well as literate, and her characters are flawlessly constructed. There's also a fine plot in this book, with quite a few crafty twists and turns; my only complaint is that a few of the plot strands could not be deduced by the reader. In the sense of the Golden Age detective story, then, I suppose Walters "cheated" a bit. Nonetheless, THE ICE HOUSE is such a gloriously savory dish it's quite overlookable. Lovers of P.D. James and Ruth Rendell will undoubtedly enjoy the work of this hot new British author. One down, five to go. Next stop: THE SCULPTRESS...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Fanoula Sevastos on December 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a gem of a novel, a well-crafted story of mystery filled with wonderful characters. Three women: Phoebe, Anne and Diane - a coven of lesbians, according to gossip- live in a manor house, secluded. Three murders: Phoebe's parents who died in a car crash many years ago; Phoebe's husband who disappeared 10 years ago, and whose body was never found; and a newly discovered body in the ice house on Phoebe's property. But were all of these, or any of these actually murders? And who is the man in the Ice House and how did he get there? This is a page-turner that has as much to do with discovering the complexities of the three women as who if anyone has been murdered and by whom. Add to that a couple of overzealous detectives - one chief inspector who is convinced of Phoebe's guilt and one detective sergeant who is driven by both the charms and the mysteries of the women, especially Anne. One of the best I've read this year.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having seen the Sculptress on TV last year and being an avid reader of whodunnits and mystery novels I ordered a copy of the Ice House. I was really impressed by the characterisation and the story. I became involved with the characters right from the very beginning feeling sympathy for Phoebe and her friends and downright dislike for the policemen. I really enjoyed this book and truly couldn't put it down. I have been looking for a new author for some time as I have been fed up with the formulaic writing of some of the popular mystery authors such as Patricia Cornwall. Finally being an expat englishwomen from Hampshire where the novel is set I found the descriptions of England etc making me very homesick. I thoroughly recommend this novel.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Winner of Britain's John Creasey Award for Best First Crime Novel, this splendid debut novel by the author is a tough act to follow. She weaves a marvelous mystery surrounding three women who live together in an English Country manor house, one of whom, Phoebe Maybury, is suspected of having murdered her bounder of a husband ten years ago. More recently, a corpse in found in an old icehouse on their property and rumors begin flying fast and furious about these three women.
Ostracized by the community in which they live, these three women become larger than life in the minds of the local townfolk. The charming and artistic Diana Goode and the earthy, no nonsense Anne Catrell hunker about their housemate, Phoebe, as the events of the past threaten to crop up again and overwhelm her.
The police, led by Chief Inspector Walsh, a man with his own underlying agenda, seems intent upon putting the screws to these three women, fixating upon Phoebe Maybury. Only Sergeant Detective McLoughlin seems to be genuinely interested in discovering the truth. In order to do so, however, he must confront his own personal demons, as he finds himself drawn into a snare of deceit, good intentions gone awry, loyalty, and a secret that threatens to ruin the lives of three women.
The author cleverly uses the discovery of the corpse as a catalyst for a voyage of self discovery for some of her characters. Brimming with a cornucopeia of subplots and one or two red herrings, the author grips the reader with a literate and compelling narrative. She is a welcome addition to the ever growing list of British mystery novelists. This author's work should appeal to those who enjoy mysteries written by Ruth Rendell.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Veronica on September 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE ICE HOUSE is a sharp and compelling crime novel, and, in my opinion, Minette Walters best. I first read this several years ago but have since re-read it many times and always enjoy the sharp writing and twisted plot.
The characters are a joy to read about. They are all developed well and interesting, but by far the two that stand out the most are Anne Cattrell and Andy McLoughlin. She is a darkly humorous and sarcastic journalist and he is a morose and troubled police detective. The dialogue they share is electric, and tempered with wit and anger, but sometimes they can be surprising understanding towards each other. They are more alike than they realise!
The plot is remarkable and surprising. There are plenty of twists and you are kept guessing as to 'who done it' all the way through - we are not even sure if the 'good guys', in this case the three women accused of murder, are really as innocent as we'd like to believe. The final scenes are tense and exciting and deliver all the first three quarters of the book promise.
Overall The Ice House is a spectacularly thrilling story with exciting characters and a wonderful ending. I believe that The Ice House is essential reading for everyone who loves crime novels.
JoAnne
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