In the quiet Sussex country town of Kingsmarkham, the daughter of Nigerian physician Raymond Akande is missing. "It's probably nothing, " says Dr. Akande to his friend and client Chief Inspector Wexford, whose help he enlists.
But the days that follow prove the doctor dreadfully wrong. A young woman is found murdered not Melanie, but the last person to have seen and spoken to her. A second woman's body is discovered, again not Melanie's, but like her, young and black. A third woman turns up beaten and unconscious; like the others, she is of Nigerian origin. As Inspector Wexford's investigation stretches from days into weeks, it becomes his unhappy obligation to counter the hopes of the doctor and his wife. In Wexford's professional opinion, Melanie, like the other young women, has become the victim of a serial killer with a horrifyingly singular objective.
Ruth Rendell is the author of Road Rage, The Keys to the Street, Bloodlines, Simisola, and The Crocodile Bird. She is the winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. She is also the recipient of three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America and four Gold Daggers from Great Britain’s Crime Writers Association. In 1997, she was named a life peer in the House of Lords. Ruth Rendell also writes mysteries under the name of Barbara Vine, of which A Dark Adapted Eye is the most famous. She lives in England.