John Lee reads Ruth Rendell:End in Tears.

There are inside words and outside words. Sometimes outside words – like Inspector Wexford’s “They don’t have handbags anymore,” – sound like inside words because they form a running commentary on something like the world. Sometimes, like Hannah Goldsmith’s, they escape, aciduously, censoriously.

Throughout the course of this investigation into the death of an unlovely and overloved teenage girl, there is an exchange of words, between and across sides. Consider Mike and Wexford:

They got on, Wexford and Mike. “If they couldn’t quite say everything that came into their heads to each other… they got as near to doing this as two people ever can.”

Turn internal words into external words, that is.

For example, one of the things that came into the Detective Inspector’s head which he couldn’t say aloud was that his friend was just a fraction too old for Jeans.

And so a thousand inside words run across the bottom of the scene like a ticker tape across the real.

The real — well, let’s not exaggerate. Mike Burden is convinced that the girl was moving drugs. Selling drugs. Buying drugs.

“You remind me of that guy at the Roman senate who used to rise to his feet every day and say : ‘Carthage must be destroyed.’ Delende est Cartago. Well, it was destroyed. Finally.”

“There you are then. It proves my point. It’s drugs.”