The Babes in the Wood is a wickedly good psychological thriller from British author Ruth Rendell. It has all of the characteristics of a classic whodunit and yet it is so much more.
Two teenagers and their older sitter have been missing for several days, as discovered by the children's parents who have returned from a vacation. The father, a gruff man who seems to be incapable of feeling any sort of emotion, sees their disappearance as a hindrance from work while their mother is nothing more than a sobbing weak willed woman who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. However, Inspector Wexford, through careful investigation and interrogation of anyone remotely involved with this disappearance, solves the case, unearthing hidden truths of those involved as well as discovers the true modus operani of a fanatic religious cult that seems to be at the heart of the entire case.
Ms. Rendell delivers a story that will leave you guessing until the very end; even I could not believe the twist the story took when all of the pieces came together. Was the sitter in fact a heinous kidnapper or was it something else? Were the children somehow involved in their own disappearance? And what of the sitter's car found on private property weeks after the investigation began, hidden away by tree branches and mud?
I hate to sound cliched, but this is the kind of book that will make you want to find a secluded spot in order to read the book in one sitting. You can be rest assured that yours truly will be going to the library to scope out her other books very, very soon.
See the book at Powells.com