A serial killer is loose in London, one who strangles his female victims and then takes a small trinket from each one as a morbid keepsake. The police are stumped -- until the jewelry begins turning up in an antiques shop.
The owner of Star Antiques, Inez Ferry, a 55-year-old widow still trying to come to grips with the loss of her beloved husband, also rents the apartments above the store to a diversity of less than savory middle-class characters. After Ferry finds the items and contacts the authorities, the plodding local detectives eventually come around asking questions but add little more to the case. As fear of the Rottweiler (the media's ill-described nickname for the killer) spreads, the police begin scrutinizing Ferry's employees and tenants. One tenant in particular, a learning-disabled handyman named Will Cobbett, is tagged a suspect for his unusual behavior. But as Cobbett is being interrogated, the real killer is walking the streets, desperately trying to recall what suppressed experience in his past (if any) compels him to kill.
Longtime Ruth Rendell fans will be delighted with The Rottweiler, a masterfully complex psychological thriller powered by a cast of brilliantly developed characters, heart-wrenching subplots, and enough insight into the machinations of the criminal mind to satisfy even the darkest heart. Larded throughout with irony, cynicism, and biting wit, The Rottweiler is yet another masterwork from a master storyteller. Paul Goat Allen