I made up a few reading challenges in February.
One, in honour of my birthday, was to read a book that is as old as I am. I looked up a list of popular books published in 1992 and settled on either one of the original Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine, or, The Pelican Brief by John Grisham. But when I went in search of either at the second hand bookstore around the corner they were nowhere to be found, and I had to improvise.
I found The Ice House by Minette Walters there, and was going to buy it just to have on my shelf. It was a happy coincidence that it was published in ’92- something I missed when doing the research.
When I was in high school, about 16 years old, I read the Ice House and didn’t enjoy it as much as my sister thought I would. I guessed the end of it from the very first page and I seriously disliked the characters. I admit now that I was too young to appreciate its brilliance.
After David Maybury disappears, his wife- Phoebe- is accused of killing him.
His body is never found and due to lack of evidence she escapes conviction, but is labelled a murderess and outcast from society in the aftermath.
Ten years later a body (mutilated and decomposed beyond recognition) is discovered on her property, and the David Maybury case is reopened, along with Phoebe’s old wounds. The police work furiously to bring her to justice, but Phoebe and her two best friends, Anne and Diana, stand by what they said a decade ago- that David ran away, and she is innocent.
I read this the second time with brand new eyes and oh! What a treat it was! Minette Walters’ writing is the stuff my wannabe authors’ dreams are made of. She created a whole set of characters who are bitter, cruel at times, suspicious in their behaviour and generally terrible human beings; yet portrays them in such a way that you cannot help but love them. As I read this again I rooted for both the ladies and the police force. I wanted both sides to win. In this story the line that divides good and evil is blurred and there are no heroes.
The women are bitches. The police are incompetent. The women could very well be killers, but it’s just as likely that the police could take them down for no other reason than they don’t like them and want to see them suffer.
What’s interesting is that the book isn’t a matter of whether or not David Maybury was killed, but rather whether or not he deserved to die.
It is such an intriguing story. It’s chilling, it makes you think about what’s important and the lengths we go to, to protect not only ourselves but the ones we love.
It shows us that it doesn’t matter if you are a tired police officer so dissatisfied with your own life you take pleasure in ruining others’, or a middle aged woman labelled a cold- blooded killer who just doesn’t seem to give a damn; we are all human, and humans… Humans are fragile, broken things who can’t always tell the difference between right and wrong.
To those who have not read this one yet, I strongly recommend it to you. I rate it 4/5. It is magnificent!
Some questions for you: Have you watched The Ice House series from the 90s? If so, do you recommend it? With the exception of The Shape of Snakes (because I have read it) which Minette Walters book should I read next? Have a fantastic day!