When the bones of two severed hands are discovered in a box, an investigation into a long buried crime of passion begins. And a group of friends, who played together as children, begin to question their past.
‘For Woody, anger was cold. Cold and slow. But once it had started it mounted gradually and he could think of nothing else. He knew he couldn’t stay alive while those two were alive. Instead of sleeping, he lay awake in the dark and saw those hands. Anita’s narrow white hand with the long nails painted pastel pink, the man’s brown hand equally shapely, the fingers slightly splayed.'
Beneath the green meadows of Loughton, Essex, a dark network of tunnels has been dug. A group of children discover them. They play there. It becomes their place.
Seventy years on, the world has changed. Developers have altered the rural landscape. Friends from a half-remembered world have married, died, grown sick, moved – or disappeared.
Work on a new house called Warlock uncovers a long buried grisly secret. And a weary detective, more concerned with current crimes, must investigate a case of murder.
In all her novels, Ruth Rendell digs deep beneath the surface to investigate the secrets of the human psyche. The interconnecting tunnels of Loughton in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR lead to no single destination. But the relationships formed there, and the incidents that occurred, exert a profound influence – not only on the survivors but in unearthing the true nature of the mysterious past.
In this assured novel of psychological suspense from Diamond Dagger Award winner Rendell (The St. Zita Society), a gruesome discovery jolts a group of friends and acquaintances who grew up outside London during WWII. Two people's hands severed and interred inside a cookie tin are unearthed at a former construction site where they once hid and schemed. At the center of the now aged clique is the "girl next door," Daphne Jones, ever envied and admired. John "Woody" Winwood, a man whose wife went missing with her lover during the turmoil of the blitzkrieg, is a malevolent presence, past and present, in the story. In contemporary Britain, Winwood's son, Michael, must face his nonagenerian father, who abandoned him decades before and then married into money, inheriting a fortune from his subsequent wives. Rendell keeps the plot and the home fires burning, and the most memorable characters, Daphne and Woody, cast sufficient light to brighten their somewhat dull companions.