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On Our Bookshelves – The Ice House – A Review

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NOVEL: The Ice House

AUTHOR: Minette Walters

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1992

I picked up this paperback, a mystery novel about a dead body found in an ice house on the grounds of an English country estate, thinking it was going to be a cozy mystery, something like an Agatha Christie story. It seemed to have the right elements: suspicious characters, women living in seclusion, nosy and gossiping neighbors, a police officer with an agenda, servants with traumatic pasts, a kind pub owner, some illicit love affairs, an old lady who knows more than most people suspect, and so on. But I was quickly disabused of the notion of having the violence and sex downplayed in this book, from the very first crude paragraph that sets the scene: “’Fred Phillips is running.’ Anne Cattrell’s remark burst upon the silence of that August afternoon like a fart at a vicar’s tea party.”

So we have the various suspects lying, additional acts of violence, secrets long hidden, red herrings, and hints of romance, but we also have vivid descriptions of the mutilated and naked dead body, the dog eating part of it, and the witnesses vomiting. The women in the house are rumored to be lesbians, or possibly witches, or both. One of the investigators has a serious drinking problem (as well as a serious marital problem). Phoebe Maybury, lady of the manor, was suspected of killing her husband ten years prior, although no body had ever been found. With a body now discovered on her property—well, she certainly couldn’t have killed him twice, as much as, were that possible, he may have deserved it.

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Not for the faint of heart (or faint of stomach), it’s well written, with some truly surprising plot twists, and more than a hint of moral ambiguity.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Lead-In Image (“Ice Blocks”) Courtesy of haraldmuc / Shutterstock.com

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