The twenty-fourth book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford. The impossible has happened. Chief Inspector Reg Wexford has retired from the crime force. He and his wife, Dora, now divide their time between Kingsmarkham and a coachhouse in Hampstead, belonging to their actress daughter, Sheila. Wexford takes great pleasure in his books, but, for all the benefits of a more relaxed lifestyle, he misses being the hand of the law. But a chance meeting in a London street, with someone he had known briefly as a very young police constable, changes everything. Tom Ede is now a Detective Superintendent, and is very keen to recruit Wexford as an adviser on a mysterious murder case. The bodies of two women and a man have been discovered in the old coal hole of an attractive house in St John's Wood. None of the corpses carry identification. But the man's jacket pockets contain a string of pearls, a diamond and a sapphire necklace as well as other jewellery valued in the region of GBP40,000. To Wexford, this is definitely a case worth coming out of retirement for. He is intrigued and excited by the challenge, but unaware that this new investigative role will bring him into extreme physical danger...
Ruth Rendell is the Queen of British crime writing. The author of over 50 novels, she has won many significant crime fiction awards. Her first novel, From Doon With Death, appeared in 1964, and since then her reputation and readership have grown steadily with each new book. She has received major awards for her work; three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America; the Crime Writers' Gold Dagger Award for 1976's best crime novel, A Demon in My View; the Arts Council National Book Award for Genre Fiction in 1981 for The Lake of Darkness; the Crime Writer's Gold Dagger Award for 1986's best crime book for Live Flesh; in 1987 the Crime Writer's Gold Dagger Award for A Fatal Inversion and in 1991 the same award for King Solomon's Carpet, both written under the pseudonym Barbara Vine; the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990; and in 1991 the Crime Writer's Cartier Diamond Award for outstanding contribution to the crime fiction genre. Her books are translated into 21 languages. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.