The Ice House is Minette Walter’s first novel and my favorite so far…

A decayed body is found in an ice house on the grounds of Streech Grange, an estate which had been much talked about ten years before, when David Maybury, its inhabitant, disappeared without a trace. Phoebe Maybury, his wife, was the chief suspect in his disappearance, but since no corpse had turned up before, no charges could be brought against her. Chief Inspector Walsh, who handled the case ten years ago, is adamant that the body is David’s, despite the inconclusive results of forensic analysis…

Anne Cattrell and Diana Goode have been living in Streech Grange with Phoebe for the past ten years. Local rumor accuses the three of them of lesbianism and witchcraft. Is there any truth in these rumors? This is what Detective Sergeant McLoughlin, who has been recently dumped by his wife, will try to find out, all the while trying to fight a mixture of attraction and contempt towards feminist Anne Cattrell. His investigation will uncover the numerous secrets of Streech Grange and Streech village, some of them people would rather have left buried…

The Ice House is an excellent psychological mystery with several surprises in store for the reader. The characters are interesting, mostly the investigators, who, like the suspects, are shown as fallible human beings. Walters paints people as they are, not all black or white, but rather in different shades of grey, and shows that justice and law are not necessarily synonyms…

A must-read British mystery!

Rating: 4/5