Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, once again uses her razor-sharp scalpel to dissect a dysfunctional family in "The Chimney Sweeper's Boy." She has done this many times before. "A Sight for Sore Eyes" comes to mind as an example. Rendell shows how our "loved ones" have the power to destroy us and how families are the battlefield of humanity. This book is about Gerald Candless, a successful and famous novelist who has a wife, Ursula, and two daughters, Hope and Sarah. He treats his daughters like goddesses and he is indifferent and, at times, vicious to his wife. Sarah begins to do research for a biography about her father's life, and she finds that Gerald had hidden a secret identity from the rest of the world. Rendell makes the gradual revelation of the truth about Gerald's past extremely suspenseful. She brilliantly interweaves bits of Gerald's writing into the book to show how he used the creative process to deal with his personal demons. Gerald cannibalized the lives of those around him for the sake of his art. Rendell delves into the psyches of each member of this unhappy family expertly, and I felt empathy for these people who had been manipulated by a master of deceit.