The Girl Next Door

Ruth Rendell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Rendell¬†and http://literature.britishcouncil.org/ruth-rendell) is a phenomenally successful crime writer. She probes deeply into the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. She has (at the last count) 74 titles to her name covering crime novels, novellas, and¬†short stories (some under the pen name of Barbara Vine). In this latest¬†psychologically explosive story from “one of the most remarkable novelists of her generation”¬Ě (People), the discovery of bones in a tin box sends shockwaves across a group of long-time friends. In the waning months of the Second World War, a group of children discover an earthen tunnel in their neighborhood outside London. Throughout the summer of 1944 – until one father forbids it – the subterranean space becomes their “secret garden,”¬Ě where the friends play games and tell stories. Six decades later, beneath a house on the same land, construction workers uncover a tin box containing two skeletal hands, one male and one female. As the discovery makes national news, the friends come together once again, to recall their days in the tunnel for the detective investigating the case. Is the truth buried among these aging friends and their memories? This impromptu reunion causes long-simmering feelings to bubble to the surface. Alan, stuck in a passionless marriage, begins flirting with Daphne, a glamorous widow. Michael considers contacting his estranged father, who sent Michael to live with an aunt after his mother vanished in 1944. Lewis begins remembering details about his Uncle James, an army private who once accompanied the children into the tunnels, and who later disappeared. In The Girl Next Door Rendell brilliantly shatters the assumptions about age, showing that the choices people make – and the emotions behind them – remain as potent in late life as they were in youth. If you enjoy this read I’m ready to bet that you’ll go on to explore other titles in Rendell’s oeuvre.

 

288 pages in Hutchinson

ISBN 978-0091958831

First published 14 August 2014

 

Ruth Rendell

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