2014: 55. The Face of Trespass

"The new Member of Parliament finished his after dinner speech and sat down."

The Face of Trespass, Ruth Rendell

Well, this is a pretty obscure mystery.  So obscure that Amazon only has a picture available in an out-of-print omnibus edition.  And, indeed, I bought it used in an old Bantam version - probably the original paperback, since it 1:) cost $.95, and 2) has a header screaming "for the millions of Agatha Christie fans - the New Mistress of Mystery - Ruth Rendell".  Very 1970's.

The mystery is only so-so.  The story is of Gray Lanceton, a novelist who is currently hiding out in a friends country cottage, having been devastated by a love affair in which his mistress kept begging him to murder her spouse.  Shocked, he has dropped her, but it's broken him - he can't stop thinking about her, and he doesn't write, doesn't socialize, doesn't do much but watch the phone…

The atmosphere of longing for another is pretty well done here, and the character of the nasty but compelling mistress works.  However, when it comes to the actual action of the mystery, things happen much too fast - it would have been much more compelling and dreadful to drag it out.  And the solution is basically a deus ex machina, which left me wanting.  So I would only recommend this to Rendell completists, I think.  

Categories: Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017