2010: 71. One Across, Two Down

“Vera Manning was very tired.  She was too tired even to answer her mother back when Maud told her to hurry up with getting the tea.”

One Across, Two Down, Ruth Rendell

      This is an early stand-alone Rendell, and quite a good one. Vera Manning lives with her mother and her husband, who hate each other, and take it out on Vera.  Her mother, Maud, has a bit of money, but considers her husband, Stanley, to be a wastrel and loser (which, to be fair, he is), and refuses to share any with her daughter, other than her basic rent.  Instead, she spends her days nagging her daughter to leave her husband, and tormenting Stanley.  When she starts accusing Stanley of wanting to murder her for the money, he snaps.  He decides to come up with a plot to get rid of his harridan mother in law.  But Stanley is a bumbler - his only skill, other than petty crime, is his skill with crossword puzzles, and nothing, not even his murder plans work out the way he plans.

       I have to say, I really enjoyed this one - I loved seeing Stanley get his comeuppance, and could imagine this, almost as a dark comedy rather than a thriller - something with Alec Guiness (I’m thinking Kind Hearts and Coronets).  And generally speaking the good come to a good end, and the bad are punished, which is always comforting, and its nice to read a Rendell that isn’t about a stone-cold psychopath, just your ordinary garden variety murderer type.  All in all, a perfect mystery read.

Categories: Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017