"The thirteenth of May is the unluckiest day of the year. Things will be infinitely worse if it happens to fall on a Friday. That year, however, it was a Monday and quite bad enough....in the morning he ( Sergeant Martin of Kingsmarkham CID) had found a gun in the case his son took to school." And it was also to be Sergeant Martin's last day on earth!
In this absolute thriller by Ruth Rendell, the author begins "Kissing the Gunner's Daughter," and she doesn't let go of the suspense until the book is finished. A longtime fan of Rendell's Chief Inspector Wexford series, I believe this is my favorite, and I've read them all. Rendell, often called the "Queen of Crime" by the Brits (in fairness, so has P.D. James and Ellis Peters--it depends on which publisher you're reading, I suppose!) presents her lovable Wexford and assistant Mike Burden out to solve another crime in Kingsmarkham.
Police are called when three bodies are discovered shot at Tancred House; only the seventeen-year-old daughter of one of the victims survives; it is from her that the police get their initial clues. As the story develops, of course, not all the clues are what they seem. Wexford is at his best and as the list of suspects continues to grow, it is his remarkable powers of deduction and intuition that prevail.
Along the way, the chief inspector must struggle with a rift he has recently had with his daughter Sheila--this affects his abilities to see clearly, too.
The "Sunday Times" writes that "Ruth Rendell has quite simply transformed the genre of crime writing. She deploys her peerless skills in blending the mundane, commonplace aspects of life with the potent, murky impulses of desire and greed, obsession and fear." In "Kissing the Gunner's Daughter" she holds the reader spellbound to its explosive end. It is a novel that begins and ends not with a whimper but with a bang!