The setting of this murder mystery is definitely the winning feature of this book. The moor of the title is typical of moorland in Yorkshire and I suspect that the village of Hilderbridge is fictitious, but the charming map in the front of the book shows the aspects of the landscape that will be recognisable to any walkers of that region.
The story follows a strange and introverted man who takes his solitary pleasure from the moor. Despite it being dark and desolate, he feels connected to it and thinks of the area as being his: he is the Master of the Moor. When a murdered woman is discovered there, it is as if the moor itself has been desecrated.
This is an atmospheric read with details about the territory intensely intimate. Sometimes the descriptions are a little long-winded and therefore lose focus, but that could also demonstrate the central character's mind as well. As for the mystery of whodunnit, it is easy to work it out quite early on as there are only a few people who could be guilty and they are all a little odd.
It was Ruth Rendell who sparked my interest in psychological fiction decades ago, but this short book is not one of her most memorable tales. Well written, as always, an easy and interesting read.
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First published by Pantheon on 12 August 1982. This edition by Cornerstone Digital on 30 September 2010.