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The Ice House

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,197 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews

With this stunning debut—a marvelous marriage of classic convention and contemporary sophistication—Minette Walters sets a new standard of excellence for the mystery novel.

The three women living in seclusion at an elegant Hampshire country house have long been fodder for village gossip...even whispers of a witches' coven. So when a faceless corpse of uncertain vintage is f

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 20th 2003 by Macmillan (first published 1992)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
107th out of 5,309 books — 11,888 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Best Literary Mysteries
76th out of 1,048 books — 2,296 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 06, 2011 Nandini rated it liked it
S & I are arguing about how this book ended up in our house at all. I think he ordered it from the library and he insists it must have been me. Whatever. It was a really good read regardless.

Three women, Phoebe Maybury, Diana Thomson and Anne Cattrell, are the residents of Streech Grange, and are under suspicion for murder. Again. Ten years ago, Phoebe's husband David disappeared conveniently into thin air but there was neither a body nor any other evidence to connect Phoebe to his murder. N
Dec 15, 2010 F.R. rated it liked it
Ten years after a brutish businessman walked out on his wife and children and was never seen again, a dead and decayed body shows up in a forgotten corner of their country estate. Is it the missing husband finally discovered? And if so, is his wife – the prime suspect in the original case – really the killer?

This cross between a police procedural and a country house murder has a good and twisting plot, but suffers from the fact that many of its characters fall into the hinterland between caricat
Jessica Woodbury
Aug 07, 2015 Jessica Woodbury rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
I was complaining on Twitter that I don't have enough mystery series to follow or mystery authors who are consistently putting out great books. Minette Walters was someone I'd never heard of before, but she was recommended by author Stephanie Gayle and I'm hugely grateful for it. I feel like Walters and I will have a long and happy relationship.

With The Ice House Walters manages to update the old-school Christie-style manor-house mystery with modern characters and settings. (Regular references t
This isn't a typical formula mystery in that it is told from the perspective of the suspects as well as the police. A decomposed body is found in the ice house of a country manor. The residents of the manor, three unmarried women, have been under scrutiny of the townsfolk ever since the husband of one of the women went missing. Is the body in the ice house the missing husband? Or someone else? The real mystery is why people treat each other the way they do...
Ben Babcock
For most of the past week, I ploughed through a W. Somerset Maugham collection with that signature pleasure one has in reading one short story after another. Maugham’s stories can wear thin after a while, however, owing to their formulaic structure. So I took a break for something completely different: The Ice House is a crime novel, but Minette Walters plays with a lot of crime conventions. It’s not entirely clear if a crime has been committed or who the victim is, let alone who the murderer mi ...more
N. Jr.
Jan 10, 2015 N. Jr. rated it really liked it
The premise is wonderful - a corpse that defies identification, found in an unlikely, hardly detetable place - an ice house overgrown with brambles as to be unseen.
Very good character development combined with a stimulating plot. Amusing sexual innuendos abound and although this is my first book by Minette Walters, I have heard that this is one of her trademarks.

Included in the story are several subplots and one or two red herrings, as the author grips the reader with a literate and compelling n
Gillie Lewis
May 14, 2014 Gillie Lewis rated it liked it
I thought I was not going to enjoy this book as much as I did. I was confused at the beginning about the introductions if the female characters. Who was who? I felt that all the characters were introduced in one fell swoop and it took half the book to sort it out. I didn't like the way that our hero detective behaved to Cattrell. So unprofessional,I don't think. It would have happened. Liked the friendship later though. McLoughlin reminded me of Lewis' sidekick in TV series. Couldn't gethimout o ...more
Jim B
Apr 23, 2014 Jim B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Read by Simon Prebble, whose able use of accents added to the characters' depth.
Won Britain's John Creasey Award for best first crime novel.

Nothing is what it seems at first in this novel. Especially interesting and unexpected is the depiction of the police officers Inspector Walsh and Detective McLachan (my favorite character).

According to the book notes, Minette Walters "writes thrillers that wed classic mystery conventions with contemporary sophistication." I would gladly read other Walters b
lots of twists, well done[return:]
Nov 17, 2015 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Minette Walters is one of my favorite mystery writers. Every book she writes stands alone, which sets the author apart in this genre where series are the norm. The Ice House was her first, and I originally read it in the 1990s. Having just reread it, I can say that it has withstood the test of time very well.

The Ice House takes place in a claustrophobic English village where everyone takes an interest in everyone else’s business, where gossip substitutes for truth, where unconventional behavior
Jan 24, 2015 Hayfaa rated it liked it
Minette Walters left me with mixed feelings.
It took some time before i was gripped to the story and i thought the start was rather boring despite the fact that the discovery of the body was featured in the very first chapter.
I believe if, like me, you happen to have trouble keeping up with a large number of characters, with several names being sent to your face and your mind taking way too long to process, you are probably going to take as long as i did to get into the book.
However, once you do
Feb 19, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good murder mystery, that stands well above where that category would lead me to expect. In fact, this ties in nicely with a TV series "The Killing" which I have been addicted to of late. The premise is this: there is a large estate where 3 single women live together after the lady of the house's husband disappeared 10 years ago. The village thinks she murdered her husband, but no one was able to prove it. Rumors fly about the women - that they are lesbians, witches and possibly murderess ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Ярослава rated it it was amazing
Shelves: murder-mystery
One of the better murder mysteries I've read in a while. It's almost custom-tailored to my literary kinks: small town rumour mills, awesome women working together (friends and mothers and daughters and neighbours), a twisty enough plot.
(One minor quibble: I'm not sold on the romance subplot. Random acts of violence by way of introduction do not a good romance make.)
Walters, Minette - 1st book

When a rotting, unidentified corpse is discovered it marks the beginning of a nightmare murder investigation for the three women living there. But is it the beginning? Or does the body lying in the ice-house mean that the police can close an old file?

Very good but slow.
Dec 01, 2012 Gary rated it really liked it
I read several Minette Walters books while on holiday and found them very well written.
I found them very powerful and slightly different to the normal style of Mystery Crime writers.
Very good reads.
Mary Dee
Sep 13, 2014 Mary Dee rated it really liked it
I had never read anything by Minette Walters until I watched "The Sculptress" on video years after it was written. Just last month, I selected "The Ice House" to read...and was then able to obtain the video for that book as well. Walters is clearly a master of the psychological thriller. The Ice House is truly a gripping human drama which addresses the impact of trauma at every level of functioning...and of society. Each of us has the choice to either transmit our past pain...or to be transforme ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Deb rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books-read
I wanted to like this better than I did because of all the people who have recommended Minette Walters's books to me. But I had a hard time getting into the book, and staying with it. I also got sidetracked because all of my Overdrive books that had been on hold forever came in, and I had to get them read or start the hold process all over again! I actually read The Ice House in real book form, albeit paperback. I've gotten so used to digital books that I can't remember the last "real" book I've ...more
Constance Collins
Jan 30, 2014 Constance Collins rated it it was amazing
Fantastic author.
(Around the world in 52 books #46 a crime story)

I think it's about 20 years since I originally read this very clever whodunnit. Although I didn't remember the details of the story, I remember enjoying it. And I enjoyed it again!

Phoebe, Anne and Diana are three free-spirited women, sharing their creative pursuits in a rambling old house in the English countryside. However, when a dead body is found in their icehouse, the truth of their lives in a self-imposed fortress become clearer. Having survi
Jan 21, 2016 Chris rated it it was ok
This was the first Minette Walters book I've read that I had to force myself to finish! I'm glad that I didn't read this one first because I would not have read any other of her books, all of which I've enjoyed. As I read The Ice House, I wondered if Ms. Walters used Agatha Christie as a model because it read much like Ms Christie's novels - English countryside setting, strong female characters, a few bumbling police officers, and a cast of unique characters with some local British dialect throw ...more
Nov 11, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
Number two Minette Walters book down! I am loving her style, her plots, the pace and the characters of her books. I used to be drawn to the 'series' type books so I could get to really know the main characters, however reading Minette Walters has made me appreciate the novelty of being able to read books out of publish date order!
I won't go into the synopsis as you can read that elsewhere, but I can say it keeps you interested from beginning to end! Loved the ending.
Am not finished with Minette
Nov 03, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mlle Alice, pouvez-vous nous raconter votre rencontre avec Chambre Froide?
"J'ai découvert cet auteur dans une émission littéraire, alors que je n'en regarde jamais, et j'ai eu envie de me plonger dans ses histoires policières british dont je suis à priori plutôt friande."

Dites-nous en un peu plus sur son histoire...
"Diana, Anne et Phoebe, trois amies, vivent ensemble dans un manoir à l'écart du village qui ne les apprécie guère depuis la disparition du mari de l'une d'entre elle. Alors lorsqu'
Feb 02, 2016 Geraldine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2015
I thought I'd seen this on the TV, but I realised I hadn't. I remember the trailer, and I also remember two people called Ros (who don't know each other, but are similar ages, similar outlook on life and have other superficial similarities) both recommending the book/author.

A few months ago I was bogged down in the disappointingly mediocre and intensely annoying Bridget Jones: the Wilderness Years. It struck me as nonsense to be still reading the same genre of books in my 40s as I was in my 20s,
Jerome Parisse
Nov 07, 2010 Jerome Parisse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Minette Walters is a British crime fiction author of more than twelves books. The Ice House is the first of her books that I have read, and I must say that I enjoyed it immensely. It was published in 1992 by Macmillan and won the Crime Writers' Association John Creasey Award for best first novel. It has been translated into several languages.

A decaying body is found on the property of a woman and her two friends. This sparks the interest of the police, who has never been able to solve the myster
Kim Greenhalgh
Aug 12, 2013 Kim Greenhalgh rated it it was amazing
As I've said a few times before - I love books that keep their mystery to the end. I may theorize as I go, but I don't want to figure it out. This novel happily meets that criteria. A friend recommended The Ice House to me and I am so glad he did. What an intriguing, twisting marvel! I've been chomping at the bit to finish it for days.

First off, if you are squeamish it may be best to avoid Ms. Walters' books. They aren't shy with the ghoulish detail of the crime in question but if you can stomac
More of a 2.5 than a 2. The book was fine overall - an interesting plot that kept me on my toes written by a skilled author. Better writing style than most.

That said, the characterization in The Ice-House was a bit confusing. The characters have a good amount of depth - there are motivations, certainly, in the actions of the main characters. That said, it didn't seem quite life-like to me. I can't imagine there are many people who go around quoting Robert Burns poems. Seriously, how many people
Matthew Catania
Jun 21, 2015 Matthew Catania rated it really liked it
The Ice-House is a solid mystery, but it would've felt fresher if I read it 20 years ago. The book takes a stance against homophobia but the message would've been stronger if the 3 women who we're led to believe are lesbians at the outset & then bisexuals in the middle weren't revealed to be heterosexuals by the climax. It also misses a golden opportunity to subvert the "characters that are really obnoxious to each other fall madly in love with each other" trope.
Lisa C
Nov 19, 2012 Lisa C rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, audiobook
The writing in this work must be pretty solid since I was really enjoying it from the very beginning, even though I didn't like the characters, at least not the detectives, and couldn't keep track of who anyone was. That's an important feature of the work. The story unravels itself several times throughout. Just as you think you understand the characters and are getting a feel for what the story is about and the direction it's heading, a layer of the onion peels back and you're reading a differe ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Babs rated it liked it
This is an interesting read and a good "whodunnit". Minette Walters keeps the pace of the book going, with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing the ending too quickly. Sometimes I felt a little bogged down in details, but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It's not too taxing, but perfect as a holiday read or for curling up in front of the fire with one night.
Oct 19, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
When a body is found in an old unused ice house on an English estate, the police are called back in, and the effects of their last investigation at the estate are remembered: an investigation into a possible murder, though no body was ever found. Very good mystery, good plotting, characters, and writing. Though it contains elements that I usually shrink from -- child abuse in particular -- it was so well-written and integral to the story that I was enthralled rather than repulsed. Possibly easie ...more
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Minette Walters (born 26 September 1949) is a British mystery writer. After studying at Trevelyan College, University of Durham, she began writing in 1987 with The Ice House, which was published in 1992. She followed this with The Sculptress (1993), which received the 1994 Edgar Award for Best Novel. She has been published in 35 countries and won many awards.

The Sculptress has been adapted for tel
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