'I think you know who killed your stepfather', said Wexford, and so begins this scintillating collection of long and short stories by the world's best living crime writer, Ruth Rendell.
It was clear both to Wexford and Burden that Tom Peterlee was not killed for £360, but various people would have liked them to believe the lie. It is a case which reminds the Chief Inspector that there is only a thin line dividing the policeman from the criminal. The criminal impulse may be present in the most routine or intimate situation.
The book ends with The Strawberry Tree, a disturbingly evocative novella-length tale of lost innocence, set on the island of Majorca. It is a triumphant conclusion to a collection of horror stories that linger in the mind.
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The words dropped, very precisely, like pebbles into a pool. They spread ripples of menace and foreboding . . . Ruth Rendell hasd the extraordinary faculty of summing up life in a single phraseor sentence . . . A mesmeric collection - Daily Telegraph
Disturbing, atmospheric, inventive and surprising . . . Rendell's capacity to enter the souls of the emotionally bruised is a marvel - The Times
Rendell's consistent talent for creating plot, combined with her uncanny grasp of contemporary experience, makes this a winning volume - Mail on Sunday
Wonderful at exploring the dark corners of the human mind, and the way private fantasies can clash and explode into terrifying violence - Daily Mail
Chief Inspector Wexford is Rendell’s most enduring and best creation - Daily Telegraph
Ruth Rendell is the Queen of British crime writing. 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.