A spectacularly compelling story of blackmail, murders both accidental and opportunistic, and one life’s fateful unravelling from Ruth Rendell, writing at her most acute and mesmerising.
When his father dies, Carl Martin inherits a house in an increasingly rich and trendy London neighbourhood. Carl needs cash, however, so he rents the upstairs room and kitchen to the first person he interviews, Dermot McKinnon. That was colossal mistake number one. Mistake number two was keeping his father’s bizarre collection of homoeopathic “cures” that he found in the medicine cabinet, including a stash of controversial diet pills. Mistake number three was selling fifty of those diet pills to a friend, who is then found dead.
Dermot seizes a nefarious opportunity and begins to blackmail Carl, refusing to pay rent and creepily invading Carl’s space.
Ingeniously weaving together two storylines that finally merge in one shocking turn, Ruth Rendell describes one man’s spiral into darkness - and murder - as he falls victim to a diabolical foe he cannot escape.
In Rendell’s dark and atmospheric tale of psychological suspense, we encounter mistaken identity, kidnap, blackmail, and a cast of characters who are so real that we come to know them better than we know ourselves. Infused with her distinctive blend of wry humour, acute observation and deep humanity, this is Rendell at her most memorable and best.
"Unequivocally the most brilliant crime writer of our time." (Patricia Cornwell)
"No one surpasses Ruth Rendell when it comes to stories of obsession, instability, and malignant coincidence." (Stephen King)
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