The Water's Lovely

The Water's Lovely

an intensely gripping and charged psychological story of relationships built on murderous lies and hidden secrets from the award winning Queen of Crime, Ruth Rendell


Can you bury a secret so deep that the truth will never surface? Multi-million copy and SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author Ruth Rendell poses this question in this breath-taking, taut and tension-ridden psychological thriller. Fans of PD James, Ann Cleeves and Donna Leon will not be disappointed!

'Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world' -- Ian Rankin

'Unequivocally the most brilliant mystery writer of our time. She magnificently triumphs in a style that is uniquely hers.' -- Patricia Cornwell
'Rendell coaxes her horrors along so seductively that all kinds of nastiness seems not only possible, but inevitable.' -- Literary Review
'The plot twists in this electrifying read each all the way to the last page.' -- Publishers Weekly
The suspense is genteel, but palpable... Rendell is in full control of her craft here.' -- Sunday Times
'Ruth Rendell at her best with an intriguing mix of personalities and a dark, disturbing, secret which finally, painfully, comes to the surface.' -- ***** Reader review
'I loved it!...I could not put it down and read it in a day.' -- ***** Reader review
'An engrossing tale of manipulation and misunderstanding' -- ***** Reader review

'Weeks went by when Ismay never thought of it at all. Then something would bring it back or it would return in a dream.'

The dream always features a drowned person - and the dead man is Ismay's stepfather, Guy.

Nine years on, she and her sister, Heather, still live in the same house in Clapham. But it has been divided into two self-contained flats. Their mother lives upstairs with her sister, Pamela. And the bathroom, where Guy drowned, has been demolished.

Ismay and Heather get on well. They always have. They have never discussed the changes to the house, still less what had happened that August day. But as their love lives start to develop, someone is murdered along the way, and long buried suspicions re-emerge with potentially tragic results.

Death will rear its ugly head once more...


  • Ruth Rendell is excellent at catatonia. She revels in the menacing potential of stillness, the sinister heft of the inanimate object. In this cool yet engrossing novel, life's miscellanea . . . threaten to unmask awful secrets. The suspense is genteel, but palpable . . . Rendell is in full control of her craft here. She places motives, possibilities, or question marks with forensic precision throughout the story . . . Impressively, she draws characters with great economy, unpicks and sustains them through a well-timed and smoothly executed story.
    Sunday Times

About the author

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell was an exceptional crime writer, and will be remembered as a legend in her own lifetime. Her groundbreaking debut novel, From Doon With Death, was first published in 1964 and introduced the reader to her enduring and popular detective, Inspector Reginald Wexford, who went on to feature in twenty-four of her subsequent novels.

With worldwide sales of approximately 20 million copies, Rendell was a regular Sunday Times bestseller. Her sixty bestselling novels include police procedurals, some of which have been successfully adapted for TV, stand-alone psychological mysteries, and a third strand of crime novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Very much abreast of her times, the Wexford books in particular often engaged with social or political issues close to her heart.

Rendell won numerous awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for 1976’s best crime novel with A Demon in My View, a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986, and the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990. In 2013 she was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

Ruth Rendell died in May 2015. Her final novel, Dark Corners, was published in October 2015.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more