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Ruth Rendell

The Killing Doll

Hutchinson 1984
Jacket design Mark Harrison

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Ruth Rendell

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The winter before he was sixteen, Pup sold his soul to the devil. It was the beginning of December and dark before five. About two hours after that, Pup collected the things he wanted and went down on to the old railway line. Dolly had gone to the hospital - there was visiting between seven and eight - and Harold was nowhere about. Possibly he had gone to the hospital too; he sometimes did. Pup carried a cycle lamp. He went out of the gate in the fence at the end of the garden and climbed down the slope through the trees and bushes. Here the old railway line lay in a valley so that the gardens looked down on to it, though in other places the grass path where the lines and sleepers had once been ran along a raised embankment. It ran over bridges and under bridges, four or five miles of it, so overgrown in the summertime that, from the air, it must have looked like a strip of woodland. Now, in the winter, the birches and buddleias were bare, the grass thin and damp, clogged with rubbish, sodden paper and rusty tins. Between the clouds a misty moon glowed, a sponge floating in soapy water.

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