Most mystery stories focus on either the detectives or the plot. End in Tears is a nice exception in that the crime context and the incidental characters are also a focus. The result is a very satisfying story that will leave you thinking deeply about the vulnerability of those who want to become mothers.
Here are the three major story lines:
1. Amber Marshalson, an unwed teenage mother, is murdered by being bashed in the head as she walks home after a night out with friends. The investigation soon reveals that Amber had been a target of an earlier attempt that had led to a similar car being smashed by a weight dropped from above. Who killed Amber is Chief Inspector Wexford's first focus. The investigation turns up that Amber was involved in some seemingly illicit activity. What had she been up to? Detective Inspector Burden is convinced that it's drugs, but Wexford is skeptical. The investigation is further complicated when her seeming partner is also murdered.
2. Chief Inspector Wexford's daughter, Sylvia becomes pregnant to provide a baby for her ex-husband's girl friend, Naomi, who cannot conceive. Family relations become quite strained over this decision.
3. Detective Sergeant Hannah Goldsmith finds herself attracted to Detective Constable Baljinder Bhattacharya . . . and the feeling seems to be mutual. But there are complications.
One of the best parts of the book is the way that Ms. Rendell points out the pressures on Wexford and shows how he uses small things . . . like his decisions to eat or not eat healthy foods . . . to handle the stress.
Anyone who loves the Wexford series will be delighted by this book. If you haven't read any books in the series, you'll find yourself engrossed . . . and wanting to read more. Feel free to go back and enjoy 19 earlier novels!