Another excellent psychological suspense book from Ruth Rendell. She is a master at depicting the gradual personality disintegration of sociopaths. The sociopath we meet here is Mix, a single man in his late 20's who has held a decent job as an athletic equipment repairman for 9 years. He rents an upstairs apartment in an old mansion from a grouchy woman, Gwendolen, who is in her 80's. The first clue to Mix's deranged thinking is the fact that not only does he have just about everything ever written about John Christie, nicknamed Reggie, a serial killer who was hanged, but that is the only books he reads. Mix admires Reggie, is similar in appearance and desires his "fame". Mix had even chosen his apartment to be near Reggie's old house where the bodies were found. Much to his disappointment, he finds out that Reggie's house was razed and another house built in its place. The second clue to Mix's unreal thinking is his stalking of a model, Nerissa, who he imagines wedding one day thus leading him to his fame. Mix's disintegration is well on its way when he starts drinking one night and murders someone in a fit of rage. At the same time, Mix thinks he sees Reggie's ghost at the top of the stairs and becomes terrified. Like several other British authors, Ms. Rendell's antagonist is surrounded by many quite nasty people. Sometimes I wonder if most British have nasty temperments! Anyway, the shining light in this book is Nerissa, a beautiful model whose charming manner as well as her looks attract many to her. Unfortunately, Nerissa attracts the losers like Mix as well as the winners. What Mix has set into motion causes events to start spiraling out of control. As his drinking accelerates he makes more and more errors of judgment surrounding his life, at great cost. As often happens in Ms. Rendell's books, all the characters come together perfectly in one way or another at the end of the book. I believe that the author has a couple of messages underneath her story. One, is that no one is alone. Everyone, even loners, effects at least one other person but usually more. Two, how isolated people are from each other in this modern age; that loneliness causes many to do things they wouldn't normally do. Some actions may be positive but too many are negative. And third, the pull the false world of celebrity has upon people nowadays. How the fixation on fame substitutes for the life lived with purpose and connectedness with others.
If you're looking to read a book that's action directed instead of character driven, this book isn't for you. However, if you want to take a break from all that and live inside the mind and atmosphere of another, this book is perfect for that. It's said by some that the feel of Rendell's story and all it contains, lasts quite awhile after the book is finished. I agree.
I love Ruth Rendell, now Dame Ruth Rendell! She's one of the best Mystery Writer's England has ever produced! This is her latest, and one of her finest!
This book was entertaining and the characters creepy and outcasts. I enjoyed their characterization much more than the plot itself.
Great book...as is anything by Rendell!
Interesting story...I really enjoyed it.Typical Ruth Rendell.
"Living in a decaying house in Notting Hill, Mix Cellini is obsessed with 10 Rillington Place, where the notorious John Christie committed a series of foul murders. He is also infatuated with a beautiful model who lives nearby--a woman who would not look at him twice.
Mix's landlady is equally reclusive-living her life through her library of books.
Both landlady and lodger inhabit weird worlds of their own. But when reality intrudes into Mix's life, a long pent-up violence explodes."
"Ruth REndell is back to her creepy best". A good read that keeps you on the edge of your chair.
A strange,mysterious read.
Landlady allows a very strange character to move into her home.
And she is a strange character herself.
The tenant stalks a beautiful model who wouldn't look at him twice.
Pent-up violence explodes.
Crazy book and i loved it!