“Never open a book with weather,” the late bestselling crime novelist Elmore Leonard sternly advised. But Leonard was wrong. Here’s how Andrea Carter begins her Irish mystery novel, The Well of Ice (Oceanview):
“…the fire crackles gently in the grate…
“‘It’s snowing,’ he says…”
Carter’s richly detailed descriptions of the freezing weather and rugged, scenic countryside make this book a visual pleasure.
Picture this: “I drove to my usual spot …The shore was beautiful and deserted, just the way I like it. The five jagged rocks protruding from the sea below Knockamany Bends glinted in the winter sunshine, dramatic and serene, as I made my way onto the beach.”
“We made our way down to the beach over the dunes. It was early dusk and the sea was a strange shade of blue and purple, like a bruise.”
Soon after, “The hospital was shrouded in icy fog, dark silhouetted figures putting me in mind of a scene from Jack the Ripper’s London.”
This evocative sense of place in Carter’s writing is likely one reason that the first three of the six books in her Inishowen mystery series, including The Well of Ice, have been tapped for a TV series filmed in County Donegal, where the author lives and her books are set.
If you’re looking to get familiar with the series, The Well of Ice serves as a fine introduction, as it can be read as a standalone. As this installment opens, lawyer Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe is trying to clear the decks before the holidays. She’s looking forward to enjoying her first Christmas with Sergeant Tom Molloy, her “secret” boyfriend. But on her way to Dublin, Ben runs into the smirking and sarcastic Luke Kirby — the man who killed her sister — just released from jail.
Meanwhile, the town’s favorite pub burns down and the barmaid is nowhere to be found. Then on a Christmas morning walk with Tom, Ben finds her corpse in the snow. More attacks follow and Ben feels in danger.
Ben is vulnerable, yet strong. She enjoys warm chats with good friends over hot mulled wine with lemon and home brewed tea with chunks of real ginger. Despite sipping these libations by the fireplace with a contented pet nearby, danger lurks.
Carter grew up in the midlands of Ireland and studied law at Trinity College Dublin. Earlier in her career, she ran the most northerly law firm in the country. In 2006 she returned to Dublin to work as a lawyer, then began writing crime fiction.
Irish production company Zanzibar Films and German film company Hold The Page bought international TV rights. Executive Producer Ralph Christians previously adapted all of Ken Bruen’s “Jack Taylor” novels (about a disgraced Irish policeman addicted to drugs and alcohol). Christians told the Derry Journal that both Irish crime series have global appeal.
Part of this is due to the secrecy and hidden agendas of the residents of the small, fictional town of Glendara. It appears close knit and familial. But what’s behind the wholesome, cheery façade?
“He was playing the cheerful host,” Carter writes of the owner of the local hair salon, who was recently attacked on the beach. “But I had a sense he was wearing a mask that could easily crack. His face had taken on the cadaverous look of a crumbling Rembrandt visage.”
The Well of Ice reveals what lies beneath.
Learn more about Carter on her BookTrib author profile page.