'Rendell at her brilliant best' Simon Brett, Daily Mail
Ruth Rendell was an exceptional crime writer, and will be remembered as a legend in her own lifetime. Her groundbreaking debut novel, From Doon With Death, was first published in 1964 and introduced the reader to her enduring and popular detective, Inspector Reginald Wexford, who went on to feature in twenty-four of her subsequent novels. With worldwide sales of approximately 20 million copies, Rendell was a regular Sunday Times bestseller. Her sixty bestselling novels include police procedurals, some of which have been successfully adapted for TV, stand-alone psychological mysteries, and a third strand of crime novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Very much abreast of her times, the Wexford books in particular often engaged with social or political issues close to her heart. Rendell won numerous awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View, a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986, and the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990. In 2013 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer. Ruth Rendell died in May 2015. Her final novel, Dark Corners, is scheduled for publication in October 2015
HThis latest gem from the British master concerns the wreckage wrought on a variety of Londoners by a womanizing con man who speaks in rhymes. Here, as in A Sight for Sore Eyes (1999), Rendell's genius is to create characters so vivid they live beyond the frame of the novel. She pushes the ordinary to the point of the bizarre while remaining consistently believable. Araminta "Minty" Knox, the fragile center of the plot, is a 30-something woman, alone and obsessed with hygiene, who works in a dry-cleaning shop. All the world is a petri dish for Minty, who sees germs everywhere, which she attacks with Wright's Coal Tar Soap. She is equally tormented by the ghosts she imagines, her domineering "Auntie" and the man who took her virginity. Other characters hover on the borderline between transformation and disaster. Tory MP "Jims" Melcombe-Smith, in bed politically with the "family values" crowd, is simultaneously courting a gay lover. Working-class Zillah Leach, bored with her small children and smaller bank account, schemes to marry up, even at the risk of committing bigamy. This is not a whodunit in the sense of Rendell's Inspector Wexford novels, but a study of crime's origins and especially its consequences as they ripple out beyond the immediate victims. The plot is intricate but brisk, and Rendell nails her characters' psychology in all its perverse logic. She has a travel writer's sensitivity to setting, to the architecture, cemeteries, birds and vegetation of contemporary Britain. This is a literary page-turner, both elegant and accessible. (Feb. 19) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
It's probably a bad idea to become so complacent about an author that the reader fails to approach each new work with a healthy dose of skepticism. But with a master like British author Rendell, it's easy to have such confidence. Once again, Rendell has concocted an assortment of damaged but compelling characters. Michelle and Matthew are a husband and wife with complementary eating disorders: one acquaintance tauntingly calls them "large and little." Then there's Minty, morbidly obsessed with cleanliness and prone to seeing the ghost of her dead aunt. Last but not least, there's Zillah, a down-on-her-luck single mother whose best friend, a rich, closeted gay member of Parliament, has just proposed a marriage of convenience. Even the supporting characters in this book are interesting enough to have spin-off plots of their own. As it is, Rendell unfolds a story in which each of these characters is unknowingly connected to the others and all the events revolve around several brutal murders in London. Combining humor with painstaking character detail, Rendell offers her readers another mesmerizing psychological mystery. Recommended for all public libraries. Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"With her usual deft touch, Rendell pulls the strands of the story
together, weaving a taut and terrifying narrative" -- Val McDermid
* Daily Express *
"Here are the fears that haunt us, the nightmarish urban myths of our time ... One of the most remarkable talents writing today" -- Jane Jakeman * Independent *
"Rendell's psychological novels remain in a class of their own" -- Susanna Yager * Sunday Telegraph *
"It is ... her ability ... to tap into registers of feeling which range from the commonplace to the psychopathic. She is to be treasured." -- Anita Brookner * Spectator *
"A great storyteller who knows how to make sure that the reader has to turn the pages out of a desperate need to find out what is going to happen next." -- John Mortimer * Sunday Times *