Martin wins a hundred thousand pounds in football pools. He decides to give away half the money to deserving needy people he knows and keep the other half for himself. He makes a list of people he could help and approaches them in person or by post. He mainly wants to help some of these people by paying money for buying a house preferably outside London. The story takes place in the late 1970s and and Martin feels that ten thousand pounds would get a house in country side. Martin's desire to see the visible effect of his charity creates some interesting situations. Sudden philanthropy makes people question so what is in it for him? Why does he want to giveaway the money? What should I do in return? Rendell plays quite well with this idea.
Martin's friend Tim had been responsible for Martin winning the pools. Tim gave him the winning combination. Martin decides not to give Tim a share of the winning money because he is sure that Tim would fritter it away. Martin meets Francesca and falls in love with her. Something is wrong with Francesca what exactly we don't know.
Finn is a hitman. He is a plumber, a handyman and a hitman. How many he may have murdered we don't know. We do know that at least two people he had definitely murdered. As in other Rendell stories, these two threads are going to intertwine and what would happen then? Martin would meet Finn at some point and something dangerous is going to happen then. Rendell slowly builds up the tension before the final dénouement.
Martin and Finn are typical Rendell characters. Martin, the successful accountant unsure about his sexuality, wanting to giveaway the money but not wanting to give some to his friend who actually gave him the combination, expert in accounts not seeing the obvious fault in his plan. There is something wrong with Finn and it is not spelt out except to say his mother had been over forty when he was born and she is schizophrenic. There is the talk of astral body, levitation, poltergeist activity, a little mystery about him. Finn is a recurring character in Ruth Rendell books, under different names with slightly different characteristics reminding me of characters in Sight for Sore Eyes, The Saint Zita Society and The Monster in the Box . Did I say that I love Rendell's standalones more than Wexford books as they are more intense?
Published in 1980 The Lake of Darkness is one of the few books by Ruth Rendell that I haven't read before. Looking forward to read Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine's The Child's Child-the darker the better.