cover image The Veiled One

The Veiled One

Ruth Rendell. Pantheon Books, $17.95 (277pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57206-2

Rendell's reputation for literary grace, ingenious plots and arresting characters is borne out again in her latest stunning mystery. Surprises abound in the case that bedevils Inspector Wexford and his partner, Mike Burden. When elderly Gwen Robson is found murdered in a shopping-mall garage, suspicion falls on Clifford, the neurotic son of widowed Dorothy Sanders, who reports the crime. At the same time, a bomb destroys Wexford's house and wounds him, leaving Burden temporarily in charge of the investigation. Later, the two detectives join forces again, but Wexford is partly distracted by worries about his actress daughter Sheila, threatened because he has protested publicly against nuclear arms. The chief inspector's psychological insights make him doubt Burden's conviction of Clifford's guilt. Wexford's questioning of the victim's family and the suspect's neighbor, along with some careful study of the agony column in a magazineamong other peculiar sourcesleads him to the truth. It's a spellbinder. (September)