Winner of Britain's John Creasey Award for Best First Crime Novel, this splendid debut novel by the author is a tough act to follow. She weaves a marvelous mystery surrounding three women who live together in an English Country manor house, one of whom, Phoebe Maybury, is suspected of having murdered her bounder of a husband ten years ago. More recently, a corpse in found in an old icehouse on their property and rumors begin flying fast and furious about these three women.
Ostracized by the community in which they live, these three women become larger than life in the minds of the local townsfolk. The charming and artistic Diana Goode and the earthy, no nonsense Anne Catrell hunker about their housemate, Phoebe, as the events of the past threaten to crop up again and overwhelm her.
The police, led by Chief Inspector Walsh, a man with his own underlying agenda, seem intent upon putting the screws to these three women, fixating upon Phoebe Maybury. Only Sergeant Detective McLoughlin seems to be genuinely interested in discovering the truth. In order to do so, however, he must confront his own personal demons, as he finds himself drawn into a snare of deceit, good intentions gone awry, loyalty, and a secret that threatens to ruin the lives of three women.
The author cleverly uses the discovery of the corpse as a catalyst for a voyage of self-discovery for some of her characters. Brimming with a cornucopia of subplots and one or two red herrings, the author grips the reader with a literate and compelling narrative. She is a welcome addition to the ever growing list of British mystery novelists. This author's work should appeal to those who enjoy mysteries written by Ruth Rendell.