When Margaret Parsons disappears, Inspector Burden tries to reassure her frantic husband that she will be back by morning. Privately, though, he is certain Margaret has run off with another man. But then the missing woman's body is found, strangled and abandoned in a nearby wood. And when Mr. Parsons lets the police into his home, a startling discovery leads everyone to question just who Margaret Parsons really was . . .
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: Sheer brilliance, June 28, 2002 Reviewer: RachelWalker from England This is a superb debut. One of the best debut novels ever published, i feel, and a wonderful introduction to the best writer currently at work in any genre. Margaret Parsons is dead. She appeared to lead a very dull life. She had been a "good" woman. Religious, old-fashioned, and respectable, her life had been as spotless and ordinary as her home, as unexciting and dependable as her marriage. But it was not her life that interested Chief Inspector Reg Wexford, but her death. How could it be that such an ordinary, predictable woman could meet her end in such a death of passion and violence? For which there appears neither motive nor clue... Thus began Ruth Rendell's writing career. The rest, as they say, is history. Already, so very early on, we are shown the immense talents of a brilliant author. Tight and complex plotting. First-class writing. Realistic and believeable characters. Good psychology, and an ability to shock and surprise which can make you feel uncomfortable. This novel really has stood the test of time. Even after about 20 other Wexford novels, this still remains as one of my favourites. (If not THE favourite) The story is simply but expertly told. The murder mystery side of it all is told as deftly and deceptivelt as an Agatha Christie story, and the identity of the killer and is singularly unguessable. This novel has hints of Christie about it (who was still writing novels at the time this was published, and would have at least ten years left in her) in its style, but this novel is even better. This one retains all the things which made Christie famous, yet builds on her faults. Excellent and well drawn characters, and absolutely first class writing, with a great sense of atmosphere. This is a truly brilliant debut novel, which really deserves it's unique place in the Rendell archive.