Ruth Rendell is known, particularly in England, for her gritty, gripping mysteries. They are complicated, with crimes that could have been committed by any one of the well-drawn characters. In this one Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford tries to figure out who killed writer Davina Flory, her husband, her sister, and almost killed her niece. Wexford keeps widening the circle of suspects and, although the list gets longer and longer, Rendell is still able to take time with each character and make him/her memorable. The crime interconnects with the love life of Wexford's beautiful actress daughter Sheila who has chosen a man who is "appalled that anyone... might deprecatingly suggest he was less than a genius." Wexford hates the guy and worry for his daughter colors his treatment of some of the suspects.
By the end, I had NO idea who the murderer might have been, and that is Rendell's talent -- it's rare.
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