The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell

During the war (WWII), a group of children played together in the London suburb of Loughton. They had discovered some tunnels and used these as their own secret place. The father of one of the children found his wife with another man, murdered them both, and placed one hand from each of them in a biscuit tin which he then buried in the tunnels.

Now, nearly seventy years later, the biscuit tin containing the hands has been discovered. The children, now in their late seventies are brought together again as the police try to determine who the hands belonged to.

We know fairly early in the book who owns the hands, as well as the identity of the murderer. It is quite close to the end of the book that the police are finally able to confront the murderer. The rest of the book is about the lives of the childhood friends and how those lives are changed by their reunion.

We get to read about people getting sick and dying, starting new relationships, having affairs and doing things that they never thought they would be able to (or have to) do.

While the book was very entertaining and it was a very pleasant change to read about people in their seventies having a life (I guess Ruth Rendell would know), the book could hardly be described as a crime thriller. The crime was peripheral to the story and even its solution was not met with very much interest by the families of the victims.

Ruth Rendell is such an excellent author and this was a good book to read, but I hope her next book is a true crime thriller.


Book Published 2014


See a full list of books by Ruth Rendell

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