2009: 82. No Night Is Too Long

“Outside a high wind is blowing and making the sea rough.”

No Night is Too Long, Barbara Vine

I have only read this book once before, and I remembered as only an adequate Vine, yet on my re-read I quite enjoyed it.  It starts off telling the story of Tim, who was once a writer and a student, and now lives a fading life in a crumbling home on the shore (and Rendell is quite atmospheric in telling us about Tim’s damp and faded home and it’s all well done, though it strikes me that she is probably describing some perfectly charming sea town that Britons go on vacation too! Oh, the power of the mystery writer!).  The reason Tim has cut himself off from life and humanity is that he has done a Terrible Thing (and I’m poking fun, a bit, because the story-telling is a bit melodramatic, but in fact, Tim has done a truly terrible thing).  And as our story starts, he has begun to get anonymous letters hinting at the terrible thing he’s done, and so he begins to reflect back on his life and tell us just what brought him to where he is.  And then later sections of the book are told from other characters points’ of view and by the end we have the whole story of what happened on a misty day off the Alaska coast.

And I’m being a little cute with details, because I think the fun of this book is learning what happened, but the following might be a bit spoiler-y, so read at your own peril.  Here’s the thing - I liked this book, and thought the playing around with narrator’s was an interesting way to tell a mystery story.  But it also made the whole thing a little too cute - because it had too much of that thing where you feel like the author is keeping stuff from you just to give you an a-ha moment at the end.  I mean, all mysteries are like that, really - the author knows whodunnit and you don’t, but some seem overly precious in their keeping back facts, just to shock you at the end.  When its masterfully done you don’t notice, but when it’s clunky you keep thinking - what’s the twist? Like how The Sixth Sense works, but The Village doesn’t, really?  This is like that.  With this one, as fun as it was to read, the seams were showing, a bit...

Date/Place Completed: June 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017