My first experience of Ruth Rendell and the first Inspector Wexford book. Given this this book was first published in 1964 I was somewhat surprised by the plot.
It begins in a very unassuming way, with the disappearance of Margaret Parsons. A dowdy woman, who is reported missing by her husband. the couple have only recently returned to the area - Margaret having lived there for 2 years when she was 16. The police are initially reluctant to get involved (as Inspector Burden is one of their neighbours the fraught husband turns to him for guidance). But the next day the search begins and the body of Mrs Parsons is soon found in the woods by the muddy lane - strangled with her own plastic rain hood.
Everyone becomes a suspect, from her husband to the people that work on the farm near where the body is found. But it's the behaviour of 2 posh couples that raise the most questions. An affair is in full swing between the local solictor Mr Quadrant and Mrs Missal (wife of a local car salesman) and they admit to visiting the lane for a secret assignation but deny knowing the dead woman.
So the police return to the dead womans house and come across some beautiful poetry books that were sent to Margaret and inscribed "To Minna, from Doon), Minna is identified as Margaret - but who is Doon? Doon was clearly in love with Minna, in order to get to the bottom of things Wexford has to find out about Margarets time at School - 12 years ago when she first came to the area. It soon becomes clear that those who claimed not to know her - know much more than they are willing to say.
I was surprised by the ending, as I say given the time this was published it was not expected, but hinted at throughout the book. This was also a very quick read - being only 175 pages. Looking forward to reading more off Chief Inspector Wexford.