The fourth book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford.
A man and his daughter lie dead after a car accident. Strangely, no other car was involved and no cause has been found. Wexford's only option is to wait and hope that the one surviving victim - the mother, Mrs Fanshawe - regains consciousness.
But when she finally awakens six weeks later, Wexford's attention has already been distracted by a new and very violent case. Walking by the canal that same morning, Wexford discovered the bloody body of Charlie Hatton.
The two cases are obviously unrelated, although something is bothering Wexford and he can't work out why or what. But just as he begins to wonder whether there could in fact be a connection, the unexpected occurs: the Fanshawe daughter, believed to be killed in the accident, appears at her mother's beside very much alive...
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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 fiction 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 novel 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 genre.
Her books are translated into 21 languages. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.