Longtime favorite Ruth Rendell is back with a clever psychological suspense thriller, The Water's Lovely. As was the case with the novels of her esteemed predecessor Agatha Christie, Rendell's latest work is laden with quirky characters: Ismay and Heather, a pair of sisters who share a decades-old secret; a retired police inspector with a fetish for India; a spinsterish con woman in search of a big payoff among the old folks in her neighborhood; a philandering boyfriend attracted to waifish blondes; a couple of barking-loony mothers oh yeah, and a dead guy in the bathtub. It's difficult to know just who to root for. Ismay seems OK, on the surface, at least, but she is obsessed with Andrew, who is equally besotted with elfin blondes, of which Ismay is one, but not his only one. Heather may have drowned her stepfather in the tub back when she was 13; whether or not she did, the event continues to have a profound effect on her. Edmund, Heather's boyfriend, is something of a mama's boy, still living at home at age 35; his mother is a raving hypochondriac and a bit of a bully as well. Marion will do anything to avoid an honest day's work, as will her brother Fowler, who dives the Dumpsters of London's better neighborhoods on a regular basis. In short order, these disparate individuals will find their lives intertwined in a sticky web of blackmail, betrayal and murder. Rendell is a three-time winner of the prestigious Edgar Award. When you read The Water's Lovely you will see why.

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