The early Wexford novels are always fun because they give such an excellent snapshot of the time when they were written. English village life in the late sixties is nicely documented here from the upper middle class gentry (still desperately clinging on to servants) to the boys' schools still teaching Latin and Greek to the forelock tugging working classes. Elizabeth Nightingale is beaten to death on a windy summers night near her posh home. Was it her ineffectual husband? Her extravagantly strange brother? Her awkward sister-in-law? Or even the lovelorn local boy with daydream ambitions? 'Guilty Thing' is a good, average and fairly typical murder mystery in the Agatha Christie vein. Its perfectly decent but not terribly exciting. The characters are all fairly stock subjects and there are some astonishing stereotypes, perhaps especially the Dutch au-pair. Personally, despite being a short novel, I also think it goes on a bit too long. The whole blackmail subplot is really unnecessary and I suspect most readers stand a good chance at guessing the identity of the murderer long before that kicks in. Its also unusual for Rendell to introduce a character such as Lionel Marriott whose sole purpose is to provide lengthy screeds of back story because she could, presumably, not think of another way to give us that information. This is one of the Wexfords that deals with a potentially shocking subject but, in the event, it isn't very shocking at all. All Rendell novels are enjoyable but, for me, this is not one of her best.