I have read several books by Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) and have enjoyed most of them. This was pretty good too, other than the fact that I felt she began to drone on towards the end, and I was getting bored. The story, though, is good. It begins with the morning that Vera Hillyard is hanged for murder, we don't know who's or what happened. From there we start back years before as Vera's niece tries to remember what led up to the murder so an author can write a book about it. Vera is a strange woman who adores her younger sister Eden and basically raises her after their parents die. The niece comes to visit occasionally to escape the war and finds Vera to be rather hard to get along with. Vera is married and has a son, but her husband is always away in the war and her son, Frances, despises Vera for sending him away to boarding school as a youngster and does his best to make her life miserable. Throughout all of this, though, Vera still longs for another child which she eventually has, named Jamie. It is kind of a mystery too, who the father of this boy is, which adds to the suspense. The author hints at the fact that 2 children died mysteriously while Vera is near, though never comes out and says she was involved, so among all these people it isn't clear who she murdered until the story is over half finished. Barbara Vine has written a unique story, unlike any other I have read, kind of a backwards mystery where the reader knows the criminal and the crime but not who was killed or why. Like I said before, it did tend to drag on longer than necessary, but for anyone who likes a little different spin on a mystery, suspense type novel, this is for you.