The crime novel that won Rendell the first of her six Gold Dagger awards, this is a haunting insight into the mind of a pathological criminal.
In a gloomy cellar, the figure of a beautiful, pale woman makes no move when the man advances on her from the shadows, puts his hands around her neck and strangles her. Arthur Johnson is a mild-mannered, shy man who has never known how to talk to women. His resulting loneliness has twisted his yearning for love and respect into a carefully constructed predilection for violence and control.
On the floor below him, Anthony Johnson, a scholar studying psychopathic personalities is about to stumble – quite literally upon one of Arthur's many secrets.
'Rendell is unrivalled at depicting psychologically warped people and at creating unease through the simplest things. This is another triumph.' - The Observer
'As well as being a classic of suspense, this book marks the high point of Rendell’s gift for seeing the comedy in tragedy. Her portrayal of the pompous and pious bachelor Arthur Johnson and his struggles to control his regrettable inclination towards serial murder is as hilarious as it is disturbing.' - The Telegraph
'Wonderful at exploring the dark corners of the human mind, and the way private fantasies can clash and explode into terrifying violence.' - The Daily Mail