Slow, methodical detective work, rendering the content of this book a bit too slow itself, therefore not entirely to my taste. However, this is my first mystery by Ruth Rendell and I was not acquainted with its main characters and their personal history, which I understand follow a long succession of books. `Knowing' them beforehand may have been useful to appreciate this book a little more, but I have the feeling that my opinion after turning the last page would have been unaltered whether I did or not.
A BIT OF A *SPOILER* FOLLOWS UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE AMAZON DESCRIPTION ABOVE AND SOME OF THE REVIEWS
In any case, their previous acquaintance would not have mattered with reference to the central theme in this book, which explores the murder of eighteen-year-old Amber in a quiet village in Sussex. Soon after, another young lady, Megan, disappears and is later found murdered. Although coming from very different social backgrounds, the police find out that the two girls knew each other and they had two things in common: youth -it goes without saying- and a child each. What could have led someone to kill them?
END OF *SPOILER*
Hard to pinpoint the facts as they are elusive up until the very last page of the book. They are also, along with the characters, quite muddled up and a bit hard to follow. Wexford's personal life and the one of some of his co-workers provide for a bit of a diversion, even though they all sooner or later connect with the central theme in a plausible juxtaposition.
All in all, it was not the best mystery novel I've read -and I read many-. What lacked here was a certain compactness within the characters which rendered the story less consistent than it should have been, considering the disturbing motive lurking behind the murders (which the reader picks up only toward the middle of the book).