The second book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford.
The discovery of Elizabeth Nightingale's broken body in the woods near her home could not have come as a bigger shock. Called in to investigate, Chief Inspector Wexford quickly determines that the Nightingales were considered the perfect couple - wealthy, attractive and without an enemy in the world.
However, someone must have been alone with Elizabeth that night in the woods. Someone who hated - or perhaps loved - her enough to beat her to death.
The case seems straightforward. But Wexford soon learns that beneath the placid surface of the Nightingales' lives lie undercurrents and secrets no one ever suspected.
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One of the best novelists writing today - P.D. James
Ruth Rendell has quite simply transformed the genre of crime writing. She displays her peerless skill in blending the mundane, commonplace aspects of life with the potent murky impulses of desire and greed, obsession and fear - Sunday Times
Rendell never fails to come up trumps, and her millions of admirers will eagerly consume this offering as they have all the others. - The Irish Times
A firm grasp of social concerns ensure that her novels are reflective of our own times, as well as hugely absorbing. - The Times
This is Rendell on cracking form, with the entire accoutrements one expects from her. - The Good Book Guide
[Wexford] has become an old friend who gets better with age. - The Herald
It's not often you pick up a book where the plot is technically perfect, where the characters all come off the page perfectly formed and the writing is so good that it's impossible to spot an unnecessary word, but which still managed to be a damn good story. I was still reading at 2 o'clock this morning... - TheBookbag.co.uk
Psychologically acute and extremely disturbing, Ruth Rendell's work is outstanding. - The Times
Ruth Rendell is crime writing at its very best. The author of over 50 novels, she has won many significant crime fiction awards. Her first novel, From Doon With Death, appeared in 1964, and since then her reputation and readership have grown steadily with each new book.
She has received major awards for her work; three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America; the Crime Writers' Gold Dagger Award for 1976's best crime novel, A Demon in My View; the Arts Council National Book Award for Genre Fiction in 1981 for The Lake of Darkness; the Crime Writer's Gold Dagger Award for 1986's best crime book for Live Flesh; in 1987 the Crime Writer's Gold Dagger Award for A Fatal Inversion and in 1991 the same award for King Solomon's Carpet, both written under the pseudonym Barbara Vine; the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990; and in 1991 the Crime Writer's Cartier Diamond Award for outstanding contribution to the crime fiction genre.
Her books are translated into 21 languages. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.