cover image Going Wrong

Going Wrong

Ruth Rendell. Mysterious Press, $32 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-389-8

Rendell ( The Bridesmaid ) is near the top of her form in this icy, arresting tale of obsessive love. As a 14-year-old scuffling his way up in the London drug and protection rackets, Guy Curran fell for Leonora Chisholm, a girl from a gentler, upper-crust home. Guy, who stopped dealing drugs after a customer took LSD and died, now makes a bundle off paintings of frolicking kittens and teary-eyed children; Leo is content to live in politically correct semi-squalor with two female friends Guy detests. Every Saturday the childhood sweethearts--now in their 20s--lunch together, every day Guy calls and nearly every minute he spins out elaborate fantasies about their love. He blames Leo's close-knit family and viperish friends for turning her against him. In an increasingly deranged, confused state exacerbated by Leo's impending marriage and a river of alcohol, Guy points a triggerman at first one member of her family, then the next. Rendall is a master of depicting the long, slow slide into madness, making each tiny step toward the abyss resound with chilling logic. Readers will see the final wind-up punch coming, but the irony is no less delicious for that. Author tour. (Sept.)