2010. 104. Grasshopper

“They have sent me here because of what happened on the pylon.”

Grasshopper, Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine)

         This is the last Rendell as Vine that I haven’t blogged about (well, until she writes more, I guess), and you know, when I started the Ruth Rendell Project I thought I liked Vine more than Rendell, but now that I’ve read and at least perfunctorily written about them all, I realize that I while really, really like some Vine, overall I get a little tired with the notion of the Vine books, which seems to be mystery for mystery’s sake.  Sometimes the idea of the narrator slowly unspooling the details over the course of the novel really works - A Dark Adapted Eye comes to mind,* but other times, like this novel, it seems a little silly.  Like, why our narrator holds out who her husband is until the last pages - it seems like a “twist” for twist’s sake, and not really worth the mystery.  

          Other than that, though, this is a reasonably interesting novel.  The narrator, Clodagh Brown has always been a climber, which lead to the great tragedy of her early life - the death of her boyfriend on a pylon.  This upended her life, and left her at a dead-end university, living in an unfriendly apartment, alone in London.  It’s not until she meets some unusual characters, and starts climbing again (this time, London rooftops) that she begins to regain her interest in life - until she is once again drawn into a tragedy.  Very interesting plot machinations, and watching all the pieces fall into place is great fun (Rendell is nothing if not a constructor of wonderful elaborate puzzles).  But for the bit of silly mysteriousness that I’ve already mentioned, it’s a good read.

*And in other novels, her characters figure out things when we do, which is also an interesting technique, like in The Blood Doctor, or The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy

Categories: Ruth Rendell Project; Re-Read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017