This early Wexford novel is an excellent, surprisingly dark tale, The darkness is literal too in that the weather is poor and the season short - the sun only comes out towards the end of this tale and much of the action takes place at night. New detective Mark Drayton is not very likeable but very interesting and most of the other characters are well drawn and presented. Wexford himself starts to emerge from under Mike Burden's shadow as the 'main' detective and we get the first rumblings of his family life here (having briefly met his wife in the last novel, we now learn he has two daughters) and, of course, that family will become much more prominent in the the later novels. The plot twists are clever and unexpected and I think most new readers will be surprised at how things develop. Rendell leads us happily up the wrong path for quite a long time. This is one of her best early efforts.
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