In Harm Done, Rendell has added a remarkable strand of acute social commentary to a book that still functions as an utterly compelling piece of detective fiction. In exploring the controversial subject of pedophilia, she takes the mainstay of her work--the problems of modern life--to a level of passion and commitment that gives the book a truly powerful underpinning.
Back in the familiar Sussex town of Kingsmarkham, Rendell's dogged sleuth Wexford is investigating the strange abductions of two young girls: Rachel, a bright middle-class student, and Lizzie, a mentally disabled 16-year-old living with her unsympathetic parents on a grim council estate. When both girls return home, apparently unharmed, Wexford is faced with a curious mystery: what really happened to them? As Wexford begins to uncover the disturbing truth, the dark psychological world that Rendell is so adroit at exploring suddenly comes into focus. And her gift for sharp but concise characterization remains untouchable, as in the case of a reluctant witness: '''We don't talk about that sort of thing.' She very nearly but not quite tossed her head."