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With this stunning debut-a marvellous 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 found in the Streech Grange ice house, Chief Inspector Walsh can't wait to make a case of it.Lady of the manor Phoebe Maybury, still haunted by Walsh's relentless investigation of her husband's strange disappearance ten years ago, is calm. She and her two housemates--sensitive, charming artist Diana Goode and pretty, earthy Anne Cattrell--seem as puzzled as the police. But do they have something to hide?While Walsh strives to nail Phoebe for murder, sexy young Detective Sergeant McLoughlin turns his attention to the exasperating and magnetic Anne. Soon his inquiry and his impulses will draw him into a tangled thicket of love, loyalty, and deadly intrigue.
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About the Author

Minette Walters has been described as the Queen of British Crime Fiction and her work has been translated into 26 languages. Her first novel, The Ice House, won the CWA John Creasey Award in 1992 and The Sculptress won the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Television rights have been sold in her first five books and the sixth is currently in production. She lives with her husband and two children in Dorset.

Reviews

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. (July)

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