``My life is a dull one,'' says Tim Cornish, narrator of much of this compelling thriller, which delivers such a dark picture of romantic love that murder seems its natural mate. Tim's workaday life in Suffolk as secretary for a cultural organization is mere counterpoint to the hours he spends writing about the affair he had with paleontologist Ivo Steadman. He hopes to rid himself of Ivo's ghost-just as, less than two years earlier when they were on an Alaskan cruise, he rid himself of Ivo by knocking him unconscious and leaving him for dead on an uninhabited island. The two had fought when Tim declared that he had fallen in love with the mysterious Isabel Winwood, whom he had recently met in Juneau. Tim, who had returned to England without contacting Isabel, believed his crime had gone undetected until he began receiving anonymous letters about castaways. Vine (Anna's Book; The House of Stairs), the suspense-writing persona of Ruth Rendell, sets out what seems to be a full, straightforward picture. As the narrative progresses, however, she skillfully reaches back to add a point here or adjust a detail there to create a whole new, equally convincing, image. Another murder and further disclosures take this darkly romantic tale to a credible conclusion. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995 Release date: 01/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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