When Ismay thinks of that terrible day, and she often does, she remembers Heather coming down the stairs–her dress wet, her face as still and white as a porcelain mask. Sometimes the memories return in a dream: climbing the stairs, following her dripping-wet sister to the upstairs bathroom–but when Heather opens the door they are standing in a marble chamber on the edge of a glassy lake. Ismay watches as a white thing floats toward them, its face submerged. She looks into the water and sees her stepfather Guy’s face, his lifeless, frightened eyes, staring up at her.

Now, nine years after Guy was found dead in the bathtub, she and Heather still live in their childhood home, and to this day the two sisters never talk about what happened. Although Ismay finds herself feeling intensely protective of her little sister and of the secret they share, their lives move placidly, even happily, forward. It seems as if the mysterious death of their stepfather is behind them. But when Heather becomes seriously involved with a man for the first time, Ismay’s long-repressed memories can no longer be ignored. With painful inevitability, the surprising truth will emerge whether Ismay wants it to or not.
"She is one of the marvels of crime fiction. Forty years after her first book, Ruth Rendell is still producing work that puts her head and shoulders above most other writers."
Sunday Telegraph

"Ruth Rendell is back to her creepy best. She has always been wonderful at exploring the dark corners of the human mind, and the way private fantasies can clash and explode into terrifying
violence."
Daily Mail

"No contemporary writer of suspense stories tries to vary the form’s boundaries more than Ruth Rendell."
Guardian

"Rendell’s eerie capacity to comprehend disturbed criminal minds continues to astonish."
The Times

“A haunting, taut and perfectly woven mystery that can easily be devoured in a single sitting.”—Associated Press
“A deft, sneaky and complicated book, a novel rish with parallels and shadows. . . . [Rendell] draws her characters with an insightful yet light touch. . . . The main mystery presented by The Water’s Lovely is how an author so relentlessly prolific . . . can do such buoyant, impeccable work. . . . [TWL] is one of her most gleefully energetic efforts. And its powers of description and characterization place it far beyond the limits of a genre novel. This book is less a conventional crime story than a sly social comedy in which not everybody dies of natural causes.”—New York Times
“The Water’s Lovely is one of Rendell’s most virtuosic [stand-alone novels], shifting seamlessly from tart Barbara Pym-style social comedy to black comedy, to gothic horror, to romance, then back again. . . . As in all her work, this novel is grounded in spot-on, grave observations of human nature. Rendell writes marvelously here….A-, EW Pick”—Entertainment Weekly
“Ruth Rendell, Britain’s best, offers up another well-crafted tale of psychological suspense.”—San Diego Union-Tribune
“[Rendell’s] writerly decorum masks a darkness and horror that Agatha Christie never touched.”—New York Magazine
“The creepiest thing in Ruth Rendell’s latest mystery, The Water’s Lovely, isn’t the murder . . . but the deep chill that can pervade human interactions.”—O Magazine
“Chills from a master.”—People
“The queen of the psychological suspense novel. . . .This [is a] subtly horrifying story.”–New York Times Book Review

“Rendell is in absolute top form here. The Water’s Lovely is as suspenseful as any crime novel she has written, but it also has the generous humanity of her best Inspector Wexford cases. . . . Rendell provides the reader with many pleasures: her intelligence and humanity, her sculpted sentences, her jokeless wit. . . . What a sneaky mind the woman has.”–Washington Post Book World


From the Hardcover edition.