Kerstin Kvist enters crumbling Lydstep Old Hall to live with the Cosways, and to act as nurse to John: a grown man fed drugs by his family to control his lunatic episodes. But John's strangeness is grotesquely mirrored in that of his four sisters who roam the dark, mazy Essex country house under the strict gaze of eighty-year-old Mrs Cosway. Despite being treated as an outsider, Kerstin is nevertheless determined to help John. But, she soon discovers that there are others in the family who are equally as determined that John remain isolated, for sinister reasons of their own.
Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. Viking have published her eleven previous novels, including A Dark-Adapted Eye, which won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award, and most recently Grasshopper and The Blood Doctor - both bestsellers. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London.