by Ruth Rendell (1998)
So, it’s not exactly like I had A is for Alibi sticking out of my back pocket, but even I know reading mass market paper back women’s mysteries with titles like A Sight for Sore Eyes and the author’s name printed in gold is not “cool”. But! When it’s as compelling and unexpected as this Ruth Randell thriller, it sure is pleasurable.
Beach reading time is upon us and if you’re tired of predictable master mind serial killers and tough but gorgeous women detectives, this odd tale of coincidence and murder will be refreshing.
While the psychology might be a tad simplified, Rendell does take us into the minds of her characters, even the most evil ones and gives us a very vivid picture of them and their surroundings. Even a minor character, like a nasty shop owner or a noisy neighbor feel like real people rather than contrived mystery novel plot elements.
As for the main protagonists, you have a beautiful teen whose youth was shattered by her mother’s murder and whose adolescence is marred by an insanely over protective step mother; you also have a vain former hippie living in a London mansion, and finally a psychopath young man who never knew any form of love as a child who despises humanity as much as he praises and adores beautiful objects.
All three lives intertwine in a way I thought would be rote and predictable but was pleasantly surprised to find it stranger, more unusual and almost grimly humorous.
I don’t know too much about author Rendell but she is highly praised among her peers and I plan to look to her again next time I’m in beach reading mode.