I usually give Ruth Rendell high marks because I love her psychological suspense mysteries. This book is no exception. She is truly the master of the psycholgical suspense novel. There are 3 richly drawn main characters in this book whose lives all manage to intersect. There's Teddy who was brought up in squalor with virtually no adult bonding as a child. As a young man he can only tolerate beauty and is incapable of bonding with anyone. He's the sociopath of the book. He'll even murder for beauty. Very talented with drawing up house plans, Teddy wins an award at school for his design. At the awards luncheon, he meets Francine and is stunned by what he perceives as her incredible beauty. Francine is a naive college student who has been totally controlled by her stepmother. Her passive nature allows herself to be controlled and as she knows no other life, she starts dating Teddy. Francine knows there's something wrong with their relationship but because of her limited life experiences, she can only verbalize the most obvious. And this takes a few dates. Then, there's Harriet, a middle aged woman, married but so lonely that she keeps hiring contractors and repairmen for her beautiful house. When she finds one young enough, she makes an appointment on the phone. Once at her house, she decks herself out while sizing up the young man's interest in her. More often then not, they end up in bed. When Teddy meets Harriet he's repulsed by her but he loves her house. After the meeting of these 3 characters and the stepmother, the tension keeps building up. Ms Rendell is a character driven novelist - it's her characters who get the plot moving with surprise endings. I couldn't put this book down. This is one of the few writers I know of who can draw such indepth characters that totally comprise the complex plot she weaves.
I am a huge Ruth Rendell fan. Her stories can be violent and shocking but they are always entertaining, with a heavy dose of psychology along with the standard mystery elements.
francine has been scolded and sent to her room when she peeks downstairs she glimpse a visitor as he brutally murders her mother for the next nine months francine will be mute and when she speaks she will be unable to identify the killer
Teddy was born into poverty and has risen from those humble beginnings to become an extremely talented craftsman determined to banish ugliness from his life. Harriet is a beautiful, bored trophy wife who employs a series of repairmen and handymen to satisfy her sexual desires. Francine is a college student who witnessed her mothers murder and now must free herself from the manipulative clutches of her fathers second wife. Connected by strands of pure chance, their lives intersecting in the strangest of ways, these three people will eventually come together at a beautiful, ivy-covered cottage with a least one dead body buried in the basement.
I really do enjoy Ruth Rendell as an author. I dont actually know how many of her books Ive read, but I generally enjoy her writing and plot style. I give this book an A+!
Classic Rendell.Do have sequel THE VAULT on hand. Good reads back to back.
disturbing psychological thriller, rather than a mystery, although murders are involved.
Very enjoyable and different story. Fast 3 hour diversion.
From Kirkus Reviews: "A modern-day fairy tale....Rendell ... brings her beautiful people and their predators to startling life."
rendell does her usual great job describing the cripples psyches of this world. in this instance, a seeker of beauty who destroys what he finds ugly.