The Suspense Continues: The Ice House

Minette Walters writes a mean psychological mystery. I have to be honest and say that I find the quality of Walters a bit uneven, but when she’s good, she’s very very good. I had a bit of a hard time choosing which of Walters to put in my Books-Read-3-Times List as I’ve three of hers that meet the minimum requirement, but none that I’ve read more often than that. I picked The Ice House as representative as it is her first book and one that I found memorable.

The Ice House is about an unidentified body found in an ice house on the grounds of a house shared by three friends. The three friends, all women, seem to have an us-against-the-world mentality and are not connected well to their neighbours. Of course the (murder?) investigation that follows the discovery of the body shakes up the neighbourhood as well as the three friends. Clearly there are secrets and hidden pasts, but it is not clear how or if the body is related to any of these hidden pasts.

The connection between the three friends sharing the large house and grounds is clearly tied up in the past in some way and unravelling their friendship and the (real) reason they share the house is a large part of the interest of the book. I’ve noted that I think this book improves upon re-reading. The psychology of the characters is complicated and it takes some effort to understand them. But I think the effort pays off. This book was made into a made-for-TV movie, but I didn’t like the adaptation much. There is far too much information given in the book via internal thoughts. These thoughts are not conveyed well in the movie. I think that other adaptations have done a better job with internal voices — the movie “About A Boy” springs to mind.

In the spot-the-trend note for today, you may have noticed that all the mystery writers I’ve discussed so far are British Women. I’m afraid I read rather a lot of mysteries written by British Women. To complete the set, tomorrow I’ll talk about P.D. James. Then we’ll get to the British Men.


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