cover image New Girlfriend

New Girlfriend

Ruth Rendell. Pantheon Books, $13.95 (172pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54813-5

The title story in Rendell's latest collection was awarded an MWA Edgar, adding to the honors awarded her by American and British critics. These 11 short mysteries, like the author's novels, are intricate and controlled, written with an understatement that magnifies their effects. ""The Convolvulus Clock'' at a craft exhibit has been sold, but Trixie must have the pretty thing. An elderly and relentlessly moral woman, Trixie gives in to temptation and steals the clock, thereby setting off a chain of disasters. The other 10 tales also involve unremarkable people who stray from the straight and narrow and get into extraordinary trouble. Adulterous lovers pay a cruel price for their sin in ``The Orchard Walls.'' Irrational fears of losing his children drive a father to criminal observance of ``Father's Day.'' Each entry is an example of Rendell's incomparable story-telling gifts. February