When Stuart Font decides to throw a house-warming party in his new flat, he invites all the people in his building and, after some deliberation, even includes the unpleasant caretaker and his wife. They are a disparate group of people, each with their individual Rendellian psychoses and potential for violence.
There are a few other genuine friends on the list, but he definitely does not want to include his girlfriend, Claudia, as that might involve asking her husband.
The party will be one everyone remembers. But not for the right reasons.
Living opposite, in reclusive isolation, is a beautiful young Asian woman, christened Tigerlily by Stuart. As though from some strange urban fairytale, she emerges to exert a terrible spell on Stuart and his guests. Mr and Mrs Font, the worried parents, will soon have even more cause for concern about their handsome but hopelessly naive son.
Darkly humorous and piercingly observant of human behaviour, Ruth Rendell has created another compelling fable of our lives and crimes.
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The sins and self-deprecations of the inhabitants of a mansion block in north-west London are skewered with great skill in a novel that incorporates adultery, dipsomania, theft, paedophilia, drugs and, inevitably, murder. A clever whodunit most notable for its naked misanthropy - Evening Standard
Ruth Rendell keeps up an amazingly high standard . . . utterly gripping -
Once her characters start twisting on ever-tightening tracks, their fates are brilliantly sealed, and it's never obvious who'll be the victim or the culprit. Rendell's greatest trick is making an unforeseen outcome feel predestined - Financial Times
Throroughly gripping . . . As always with Rendell, it's the exquisite human and social minutiae that count - The Times
Ruth Rendell has few rivals as a chronicler of everyday life - Sunday Times
A thrilling exercise in horrid laughter - Evening Standard
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.