Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell
Why is Duncan so warm in his flat during the coldest of winters in London? An efficient heating system and good insulation, he tells his neighbors. But why is Duncan so warm in April with the heating system turned off and the windows open? And who is this good-looking new guy, who admires his reflection in every shop window he passes? He has fallen in love at first sight with the woman that Duncan has inventively named Tigerlily, who lives next door. Old hippies, young college students, a professional couple, and an unrepentant drunk all occupy the six flats in Lichfield House. Duncan, across the road, observes all their comings and goings, and even joins them when he is invited to a house-warming party at the good-looking guy’s flat. But then someone from Lichfield House is murdered, and the plot, already thickened, morphs into a mystery. Ruth Rendell is a master at layering her characters and plot lines in various patterns without making it look obvious—she effortlessly uses those characters and plot lines to advance and finalize the story, totally engaging the reader in the story’s progress. I always hate to end her books, and finishing Tigerlily's Orchids involved not a little grief at losing some of these new acquaintances. But Rendell has a nice backlist collection, and more under her pseudonym, so I will be meeting more quirky characters for quite a while.