Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell
|Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: Ruth Rendell's last book might not be her greatest but it's still head and shoulders above most other books. Highly recommended.
|Date: October 2015
|External links: Author's website
Carl Martin was in the fortunate position of having just had his first novel published and inheriting his late father's house in Maida Vale. His father had accumulated a collection of homeopathic remedies which really should have been thrown out, but Carl had other things on his mind and never got round to it. There was his girlfriend Nicola, work to start on his second novel and he wanted to let the top floor of his house. Authors are not that well off, you see and he needed some ready money coming in. In addition to being a bit remiss about the contents of the medicine cabinet he should have been a bit more careful about who he took on as a tenant.
Stacey was never Carl's girlfriend - they were just good friends - but her job in television was not going to last if she continued to put on weight the way that she was doing. In Carl's medicine cabinet there were some drugs which could be used to lose weight - and Carl sold some to Stacey for £50. Cash flow had been a bit tight again. Only Dermot, Carl's tenant, saw the transaction and Stacey died after taking the pills. This started a stream of catastrophic events which would end in murder.
Ruth Rendell's great talent was her ability to start with a mundane, everyday situation and build the tension to the point where violence and death is inevitable. At each step along the way you'll think that you might have done something differently, but a small voice will admit that you might, just might have gone down the same road. The characters are all human - all with their share of flaws and weaknesses. Stacey's friend Lizzie wasn't entirely dishonest in wanting to make more of the relationship than had existed before Stacey's death. It didn't seem entirely wrong to move into Stacey's flat - to look after it, of course - and to make use of her clothes. Well, who else was going to wear them? Dermot didn't see that withholding his rent from Carl was blackmail. It couldn't be - he was a very religious man - but it just seemed fair that he should take advantage of what he knew.
Ruth Rendell died in May 2015 and this is her final novel. Some say that this is her best, but I'm not quite so certain. It's certainly an excellent story with brilliant plotting. I found it a riveting read, but I thought it lacked the sharpness of her best books, but it's still head and shoulders above most other books you'll ever read. There's no tricksiness in the writing, no devices to hide the fact that the plot doesn't quite work out. The prose is exquisite and has been since she published her first book. She will be sadly missed. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
And her best book? Well, for me that has to be Portobello.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell at Amazon.com.
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