Weeks went by when Ismay never thought of it at all. Then something would bring it back or it would return in a dream. The dream began in the same way. She and her mother would be climbing the stairs, following Heather's lead through the bedroom to what was on the other side, not a bathroom in the dream but a chamber floored and walled in marble. In the middle of it was a glassy lake. The white thing in the water floated towards her, its face submerged, and her mother said, absurdly, "Don't look!'" The dead man was Ismay's stepfather, Guy. Nine years on, she and her sister, Heather, still live in the same house in Clapham. But it has been divided into two self-contained flats. Their mother lives upstairs with her sister, Pamela. And the bathroom, where Guy drowned, has disappeared. Ismay works in public relations, and Heather in catering. They get on well. They always have. They never discuss the changes to the house, still less what happened that August day...But even lives as private as these, where secrets hang in the air like dust, intertwine with other worlds and other individuals. And, with painful inevitability, the truth will emerge.
Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, The New Girl Friend; a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.