cover image The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door

Ruth Rendell. Scribner, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8432-8

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. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.)