Of the major contemporary mystery/crime writers, only Rendell--like Agatha Christie before her--is as impressive with short-stories as with novels: this third collection reaffirms her creepy skills (on shaky display in the recent Master of the Moor) for leanly convincing psychopathology, the blackest of black comedy, dreadful twists, and marital tensions of a particularly lethal nature. Almost half of the stories here involve marriage-related murder--with jealousy, fear, fury, or (on occasion) severe annoyance as the neatly sketched-in motive. There are grisly methods--from knitting needles to safari-park abandonment. And when the killer is merely mad (as in one graveyard-chiller), Rendell manages to make pathos part of the picture. No surprises, of course: all but one of the eleven entries have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine--and many have been stand-outs in EQ anthologies. But for anyone who has enjoyed the unsettling irony and horror of such Rendell novels as A Judgement in Stone, these are fine examples of restrained, sophisticated, even whimsical terror--with echoes of Saki as well as Christie.