Skip to content
The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door

A stand-alone novel published by Hutchinson in

Instead of exploring psychopathy as one might have expected, Rendell gives an acutely observed portrayal of old age through her characters’ regrets, losses and bewilderment. Her realism renders the novel bleak at times but moving too. Difficult themes such as death, usually dressed up in mystery in a crime novel, are real, hard-hitting and constant.

Claire Kohda 1

In all her novels, Ruth Rendell digs deep beneath the surface to investigate the secrets of the human psyche.

The interconnecting tunnels of Loughton in The Girl Next Door lead to no single destination. But the relationships formed there, the incidents that occurred, exert a profound influence — not only on the survivors— but in unearthing the true nature of the mysterious past.

Before the advent of the Second World War, beneath the green meadows of Loughton, Essex, lies a dark network of tunnels. A group of children discover them. They play there. It becomes their secret place.

Seventy years on, the world has changed. Developers have altered the rural landscape. Friends from a half-remembered world have married, died, grown sick, moved on or disappeared.

Work on a new house called Warlock uncovers a grisly secret buried a lifetime ago, and a weary detective, more preoccupied with current crimes, must investigate a possible case of murder.


Contemporary Reads 3


  1. Ruth Rendell’s acute investigation of old age, The Observer, 2014 ↩︎

  2. Ruth Rendell looks back on her 40-year friendship with her fellow crime novelist PD James. The Guardian 2014. ↩︎

  3. Book links may earn this site a small commission. ↩︎