When his father dies, Carl Martin inherits a house in an increasingly rich and trendy London neighbourhood. Carl needs cash, however, so he rents the upstairs room and kitchen to the first person he interviews, Dermot McKinnon. That was colossal mistake number one. Mistake number two was keeping his father’s bizarre collection of homoeopathic “cures” that he found in the medicine cabinet, including a stash of controversial diet pills. Mistake number three was selling fifty of those diet pills to a friend, who is then found dead.
Dermot seizes a nefarious opportunity and begins to blackmail Carl, refusing to pay rent and creepily invading Carl’s space.
Ingeniously weaving together two storylines that finally merge in one shocking turn, Ruth Rendell describes one man’s spiral into darkness - and murder - as he falls victim to a diabolical foe he cannot escape.
In Rendell’s dark and atmospheric tale of psychological suspense, we encounter mistaken identity, kidnap, blackmail, and a cast of characters who are so real that we come to know them better than we know ourselves. Infused with her distinctive blend of wry humour, acute observation and deep humanity, this is Rendell at her most memorable and best.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By SEA, Charente on 12-11-15
Another Rendell Classic
Fascinating character study of a modern psychopath.
Unfortunately the style of narration ruins it in my opinion, resembling as it does that of a nursery school teacher endeavouring to keep the attention of his or her infant charges. I found it both annoying and a distraction from the text.
A great pity.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Susan Random on 05-01-16
This novel, published posthumously in 2015 marked the end of Rendell's rich and insightful writing career, which was a tragedy for me and millions of other loyal fans. Once again, the Queen Of The Psychological Thriller writes about her favourite subjects: psychopaths residing in the gentrified areas of Maida Vale and the entwined lives of a disparate number of people.
I did enjoy it and pretty much raced through the story, playing it out loud whilst completing my chores. The characters were pretty well drawn, well, apart from the antagonist Dermot, who seemed to be taken from Rendell's back catalogue of social misfits.
Ric Jerrom's silkily sardonic narration was as excellent as ever. He really manages to install a sense of Menace with his subtle vocal nuances. Recommended.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful