When millionaire banker, Preston Still, kills his wife's lover by pushing him down the stairs, he looks to the family au-pair to help him dispose of the body.
But the au pair belongs to the Saint Zita Society, a self-formed group of drivers, nannies and gardeners, who are servants to the rich - and whose intentions are not entirely benign.
Accident, murder, illicit affairs, and a young man recently released from a hospital for the criminally insane come together with devastating consequences in Ruth Rendell's gripping crime novel.
When I was in my twenties I devoured everything that Ruth Rendell had to offer and, for no reason whatsoever, I haven't read any of her books in the intervening period. So, reading this novel was like being reacquainted with an old friend with whom I was able to just pick up from where we last left off.
There are a lot of characters in this book which would have been hard to keep track of if it had not been for the useful street map with a key to who lived in which house at the beginning of the book and which I referred to on several occasions whilst reading the first few chapters. As my reading progressed through this book and the characters were fleshed out this became less necessary.
It is the coming together of this contrasting cast of characters that Ms Rendell always did so well. In this book she brings together characters from different classes and cultures and allows the reader to observe the way in which they interact with one another as the plot line develops. I think what this book does so well is to allow the reader to be the judge of whether the various characters dealt with the consequences of their actions appropriately.
I found this book thought provoking. Ms Rendell never sugar coats her characters, and therefore, they are not always terribly likeable. However, the plot is played out so intricately around the characters that they are very easy to engage with.
Reading this book has reawakened my admiration for this author and I am looking forward to reading and re-reading more of her work. Here, she wrote an excellent psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages. Her death last year remains a great loss to the crime fiction genre.
About the Author:
Ruth Rendell was an exceptional crime writer, and will be remembered as a legend in her own lifetime. Her groundbreaking debut novel, From Doon With Death, was first published in 1964 and introduced the reader to her enduring and popular detective, Inspector Reginald Wexford, who went on to feature in twenty-four of her subsequent novels.
With worldwide sales of approximately 20 million copies, Rendell was a regular Sunday Times bestseller. Her sixty bestselling novels include police procedurals, some of which have been successfully adapted for TV, stand-alone psychological mysteries, and a third strand of crime novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Very much abreast of her times, the Wexford books in particular often engaged with social or political issues close to her heart.
Rendell won numerous awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for 1976’s best crime novel with A Demon in My View, a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986, and the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990. In 2013 she was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.
Ruth Rendell died in May 2015. Her final novel, Dark Corners, was published in October 2015.