Table of Contents
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Epub ISBN 9781409069027
Reissued by Arrow Books 2009
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Copyright © Ruth Rendell, 1967
Ruth Rendell has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between these fictional characters and actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
First published in Great Britain in 1967 by Hutchinson
This edition first published in paperback by Arrow Books in 1982
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About the Author
Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for 1976’s best crime novel with
A Demon in My View
; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, ‘The New Girl Friend’; and a Gold Dagger award for
in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990
Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.
The new Chief Inspector Wexford novel,
Monster in the Box
, is out in hardback October 2009.
Praise for Ruth Rendell:
‘One of the foremost of our writers of crime fiction’ PD James
‘The most brilliant mystery novelist of our time’ Patricia Cornwell
‘Through the quality of her writing she’s raised the game of the crime novel in this country’ Peter James
‘Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world’ Ian Rankin
‘She can make a scene between two women sitting in a café as violent as anything you’ve seen between a couple of guys with baseball bats’ Mark Billingham
‘Ruth Rendell, like all the great creators of crime fiction, keeps her pact with the reader. There’s a murder mystery, there are clues, there is a solution. It’s a very satisfying read’ Giles Brandreth
‘As a page-turner there are few who can match Ruth’ Colin Dexter
‘She deals quite seamlessly with social issues. She’s got a real grip on what makes people do things’ Val McDermid
‘She gets into the mind not only of the hero; she gets into the mind of the villain’ Jeffrey Deaver
‘Very good at recording social and political change . . . she’s bang up to the minute’ Andrew Thomas
‘Rendell is a great storyteller who knows how to make sure that the reader has to turn the pages out of a desperate need to find out what is going to happen next’ John Mortimer,
‘Plenty of style and many a wry reflection on the human condition . . .’ Frances Fyfield,
‘The inspiration never seems to flag and the quality of the craftsmanship remains as high as ever’
‘Ruth Rendell’s mesmerising capacity to shock, chill and disturb is unmatched’
‘Ms Rendell exercises a grip as relentless as an anaconda’s’
‘Ruth Rendell has quite simply transformed the genre of crime writing. She displays her peerless skill in blending the mundane, commonplace aspects of life with the potent murky impulses of desire and greed, obsession and fear’
‘A brilliant piece of exhumation’
‘Cleverly plotted and conspicuously well written’
‘Wonderful at exploring the dark corners of the human mind, and the way private fantasies can clash and explode into terrifying violence’
‘Superb plotting and psychological insight make this another Rendell gripper’
Woman & Home
‘An unusual detective story . . . intelligent, well-written, with a surprising twist at the end’
Times Literary Supplement
‘England’s premier detective-thriller writer’
‘Intricate and ingenious’
‘Unguessable and brilliant’
‘The best mystery writer anywhere in the English-speaking world’
COLLECTED SHORT STORIES | COLLECTED STORIES 2 | WEXFORD: AN OMNIBUS | THE SECOND WEXFORD OMNIBUS | THE THIRD WEXFORD OMNIBUS | THE FOURTH WEXFORD OMNIBUS | THE FIFTH WEXFORD OMNIBUS | THREE CASES FOR CHIEF INSPECTOR WEXFORD | THE RUTH RENDELL OMNIBUS | THE SECOND RUTH RENDELL OMNIBUS | THE THIRD RUTH RENDELL OMNIBUS |
CHIEF INSPECTOR WEXFORD NOVELS:
FROM DOON WITH DEATH | A NEW LEASE OF DEATH | WOLF TO THE SLAUGHTER | THE BEST MAN TO DIE | A GUILTY THING SURPRISED | NO MORE DYING THEN | MURDER BEING ONCE DONE
A L S O B Y R U T H R E N D E L L
| SOME LIE AND SOME DIE | SHAKE HANDS FOR EVER | A SLEEPING LIFE | PUT ON BY CUNNING | THE SPEAKER OF MANDARIN | AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS | THE VEILED ONE | KISSING THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER | SIMISOLA | ROAD RAGE | HARM DONE | THE BABES IN THE WOOD | END IN TEARS | NOT IN THE FLESH | THE MONSTER IN THE BOX |
THE FALLEN CURTAIN | MEANS OF EVIL | THE FEVER TREE | THE NEW GIRLFRIEND | THE COPPER PEACOCK | BLOOD LINES | PIRANHA TO SCURFY |
HEARTSTONES | THE THIEF |
RUTH RENDELL’S SUFFOLK | RUTH RENDELL’S ANTHOLOGY OF THE MURDEROUS MIND |
TO FEAR A PAINTED DEVIL | VANITY DIES HARD | THE SECRET HOUSE OF DEATH | ONE ACROSS, TWO DOWN | THE FACE OF TRESPASS | A DEMON IN MY VIEW | A JUDGEMENT IN STONE | MAKE DEATH LOVE ME | THE LAKE OF DARKNESS | MASTER OF THE MOOR | THE KILLING DOLL | THE TREE OF HANDS | LIVE FLESH | TALKING TO STRANGE MEN | THE BRIDESMAID | GOING WRONG | THE CROCODILE BIRD | THE KEYS TO THE STREET | A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES | ADAM AND EVE AND PINCH ME | THE ROTTWEILER | THIRTEEN STEPS DOWN | THE WATER’S LOVELY | PORTOBELLO
’Tis all a chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.
The Rubaiyát of Omar Khayyám
WOLF TO THE
I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer’d, once did live,
And merry-make; and the cold Lip I kiss’d
How many Kisses might it take – and give!
They might have been going to kill someone.
The police would possibly have thought so if they had stopped the car that was going too fast along the darkening road. The man and the girl would have had to get out and explain why they were carrying an offensive weapon. Explanation would have had to come from the man, for the girl could not have answered them. In the gathering dusk, watching the thin rain trickle down the glass, she thought that the raincoats they wore looked like a disguise, gangster garments, and the knife unsheathed for use.
‘Why do you carry it?’ she asked, speaking for the first time since they had left Kingsmarkham and its street lamps drowned in drizzle. ‘You could get into trouble having a knife like that.’ Her voice was nervous, although the nerves were not for the knife.
He pressed the switch that worked the windscreen wipers. ‘Suppose the old girl turned funny?’ he said. ‘Suppose she changed her mind? I might have to put the fear of God into her.’ And he drew his fingernail along the flat of the blade.
‘I don’t like it much,’ the girl said, and again she did not only mean the knife.
‘May be you’d rather have stayed at home, with him liable to come in at any minute? It’s a miracle to me you ever got around to using his car.’
Instead of answering him, she said carefully, ‘I mustn’t see this woman, this Ruby. I’ll sit in the car out of the way while you go to the door.’
‘That’s right, and she’ll nip out the back. I got the whole thing arranged on Saturday.’
Stowerton was seen first as an orange blur, a cluster of lights swimming through mist. They came into the town centre where the shops were closed but the launderette still open. Wives who worked by day sat in front of the machines, watching their washing spin round inside the portholes, their faces greenish, tired in the harsh white light. On the corner at the crossroads, Cawthorne’s garage was in darkness, but the Victorian house behind it brightly illuminated and from its open front door came the sound of dance music. Listening to this music, the girl gave a soft giggle. She whispered to her companion, but because she had only said something about the Cawthornes having a party, nothing about their own destination and their purpose, he merely nodded indifferently and said:
‘How’s the time?’
She caught sight of the church clock as they turned into a side street. ‘Nearly eight.’
‘Perfect,’ he said. He made a face in the direction of the lights and the music and raised two fingers in a derisive gesture. ‘That to old Cawthorne,’ he said. ‘I reckon he’d like to be in my shoes now.’
The streets were grey and rain-washed and they all looked the same. Stunted trees grew from the pavements at four-yard intervals and their struggling roots had made cracks in the tarmac. The squat houses, unbroken rows and rows of them, were all garageless and there was a car stuck half-way on the pavement outside nearly every one.
‘Here we are, Charteris Road. It’s number eighty-two, the one on the corner. Good, there’s a light in the front room. I thought she might have done the dirty on us, got cold feet or something and gone out.’ He put the knife into his pocket and the girl watched the blade flick back to bury itself in the shaft. ‘I shouldn’t have liked that,’ he said.