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In the waning months of the second World War, a group of children discover an earthen tunnel in their neighborhood outside London. Throughout the summer of 1944 - until one father forbids it - the subterranean space becomes their "secret garden", where the friends play games and tell stories.
Six decades later, beneath a house on the same land, construction workers uncover a tin box containing two skeletal hands, one male and one female. As the discovery makes national news, the friends come together once again, to recall their days in the tunnel for the detective investigating the case. Is the truth buried among these aging friends and their memories?
This impromptu reunion causes long-simmering feelings to bubble to the surface. Alan, stuck in a passionless marriage, begins flirting with Daphne, a glamorous widow. Michael considers contacting his estranged father, who sent Michael to live with an aunt after his mother vanished in 1944. Lewis begins remembering details about his Uncle James, an army private who once accompanied the children into the tunnels, and who later disappeared.
In The Girl Next Door Rendell brilliantly shatters the assumptions about age, showing that the choices people make - and the emotions behind them - remain as potent in late life as they were in youth.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Happy Helena on 02-08-15
Kept unfolding more twists and turns
This was one of the best Ruth Rendell mysteries I have read (of many). Somehow, even though you know both the crime and the culprit from the first chapter, the unveiling of the lives of all the senior citizens affected dozens of years after the event is absorbing. While things are tied up more or less neatly at the end, you will not find what you thought will happen has happened. Rendell gets the reader into the psyche of several characters who met as children during WWII, and how life has warped or injured them, and how they have survived when they all re-meet much later in life. While you don't necessarily like the characters, Rendell has made you care about what they will do. Really enjoyed this long book, and as ever, the map of London in front of you always helps with Rendell's excellent evocation of scenery.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful