bones of two severed hands are discovered in a box, an investigation
into a long buried crime of passion begins. And a group of friends, who
played together as children, begin to question their past.
Before the advent of
the Second World War, beneath the green meadows of Loughton, Essex, a
dark network of tunnels has been dug. A group of children discover them.
They play there. It becomes their secret place. Seventy years on,
the world has changed. Developers have altered the rural landscape.
Friends from a half-remembered world have married, died, grown sick,
moved on or disappeared. Work on a new house called Warlock
uncovers a grisly secret, buried a lifetime ago, and a weary detective,
more preoccupied with current crimes, must investigate a possible case
The book description makes this sound like a detective/whodunnit story which it isn't; the murderer and victims are revealed to us early on. I wasn't bothered by this and to be honest I didn't really expect it be that type of book. I have long been a fan of Ruth Rendell's stand alone novels, a lot more so than her Wexford series. I love the way the tension in them gradually builds, secrets are revealed and you are constantly wondering what will happen next.
It started well and the part set in the past around the time of the murders had me gripped. After this the story moved on to the lives of the children as adults in their seventies. A lot of people were introduced and it was difficult for me to remember who was who away from the main characters. I found the novel became less interesting in its last quarter, when it became apparent to me that the twists, turns and shocks weren't going to happen, or at least not to the level I was hoping for. However I did enjoy the book despite it not being one of the author's best. It is more a story about the lives of the friends and how the gruesome discovery affects them so if you're hoping for a crime novel then this may not be for you. If you've not read anything by Ruth Rendell before then I suggest you start with one of her earlier novels (and there are plenty to choose from); fans of her work should enjoy this though.