2014: 26-27. Two More Rendells


"The rain stopped as they came into the town, but puddles lay everywhere, whipped and wrinkled by the wind."

Vanity Dies Hard, Ruth Rendell

I had an Amazon.com gift card (thanks, Dad! P.S. Book cards are way better hospital gifts than flowers!), and decided that after my Rendell binge the other day, I'd pick up a few early Rendell's I've never read before.  They were a mixed bag, as early Rendell can be (don't blame me, I'm a completist).  This one is pretty bad.  In fact, for the first time since I can remember, I straight up figured out the plot with, like 100 pages to go. I mean, not completely, but enough that I kept saying "ok, Ruth, I get it," like every ten pages.  Anyway, if you, too are a completist, this is the story of Alice Whittaker, an 37 year old woman, who, after being written off as a spinster, got married to a younger man.  She's pretty neurotic about it - worried that he thinks she's too old, or she'll lose him, etc.  Ironically, she doesn't really seem to worry that he married her for her money, and she's loaded, so who knows.  But, anyway, she's happily married, but is concerned because her friend Nesta seems to have disappeared.  As she looks for Nesta, her other worries and neuroses start to really bubble to the surface.  Was it murder? Was it Andrew? Etc.  Honestly, I cannot recommend this unless you are reading everything Rendell ever wrote (which, of course, I am).

The man was heavily built and drove a big car, a green Ford Zephyr.

The Secret House of Death, Ruth Rendell

This, on the other hand, I totally enjoyed - which is why I keep up with this project, even when there are total dogs.  The story is set in a nice suburb of London, where everyone is gossiping about a neighbor - Louise North.  Every day, once her husband goes out, a man comes to visit, and everyone is convinced she's sleeping with him, and worries what will happen when her husband finds out.  Then, one, day, Louise turns up dead.  Seems to be a murder-suicide situation, at least to the police, but certain people are starting to worry.  Like her neighbor, the divorced Susan Townsend, and David Chadwick, an acquaintance of the deceased lover.  Anyway, there is a twist, bien sur, and its a clever one.  Plus, I really liked the fact that there weren't detectives, per se, just nosy people who solved the crime.  Quite a fun read, and not too, too dated despite a bit of heavy handed stuff about divorce in the 1970's.

Category:  Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017