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Judgement in Stone [Hardcover]

Ruth Rendell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jun 1983
Four members of the Coverdale family died in the space of 15 minutes on St Valentine's Day. Eunice Parchman, the housekeeper, shot them down on that Sunday evening while they were watching opera on television, and was arrested two weeks later. But the tragedy neither began nor ended there.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Amereon Limited (Jun 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891908889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891908883
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 14.8 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,570,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, 'The New Girl Friend'; and a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

Product Description


A classic -- The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

It seems to be a straightforward, if bloody, crime. Four members of one family murdered by their housekeeper in a modern St. Valentine's Day massacre. But that is where the story begins. A critically acclaimed novel from the author of bestselling crime thrillers including Thirteen Steps Down and the world-famous Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"A judgement in stone" is the story of a crime, and the reasons behind it. All that happens is in direct relation to a secret, Eunice Parchman's secret.
Eunice, the housekeeper of the Coverdale family, seems to be merely a dull woman with an insipid personality. She is cold and quite solemn, but not violent, at least she doesn't seem to be. However, events would prove otherwise, as the reader is informed from the very first page of "A judgement in stone": "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write".
This is the story of how an apparently normal person is ridden by the all-powering obsession of protecting a secret she deems shameful, that she is illiterate. How far will she go to avoid the disclosure of that fact is something you will learn if you read this book, although you already have a pretty important clue...
On the whole, I can say that I highly recommend this book. The main character isn't likeable ("A stone that breathed was Eunice, as she had always been"), but the story is engaging and well-written. Moreover, the writer managed to write a convincing psychological study of Eunice that allows the reader to look into the mind of a cold-blooded killer. Those are the main reasons why you won't be able to stop reading this book once you start it :)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BRILLIANT STUDY OF THE SOCIO-PATHIC MIND... 6 Sep 2003
This is one of Ruth Rendell's earlier works and, perhaps, one of her best. More of a novella, rather than a full fledged novel, by virtue of its brevity, it is absolutely brilliant, well-written, and gripping from the get go. Ms. Rendell captures the reader with her first sentence, "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write."
This is a descriptive and insightful literary stunner about how an illiterate, middle aged women gets to the point that she wipes out a family one fateful evening. The book takes the reader, step by step, through the events that lead up to this crossroad. It explores the mind of Eunice Parchman, a woman so limited in her world view and so robotic in her actions that she is almost repellent. The reader marvels at her very existence and is sure to find her fascinating character study.
Ms. Parchman's interactions with the well educated Coverdale family, who employs her as a housekeeper, are intriguing and always interesting, as she struggles to keep her illiteracy a secret. How Ms. Parchman circumvents its discovery for as long as does, the lengths to which she goes to maintain a facade of literacy, and her socially inappropriate responses to every day situations, paint an intriguing psychological portrait for the reader. The eventual discovery of her illiteracy results in a ghastly outcome, which makes for some gripping and chilling reading.
Ms. Rendell is masterful in her storytelling, infusing mundane situations with an understated horror that is all the more chilling because of the common denominator that strikes a chord with the reader. Written is well-nuanced, taut, spare style, this book is a literary gem that will keep the reader riveted to its pages. Bravo!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Judgement in Stone, Ruth Rendell 23 Jun 2004
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
A Judgement in Stone is Rendell's masterpiece (well, along with one or two others). It is popular opinion among her fans, and it is also true. I have never read a better book on the class division in England; any books that deal with probing the minds of the mad are written only by Rendell herself.
"Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write", is its famous first line, and a brilliant one it is too. The crime writer Henning Mankell has said that it is his ambition to write a crime novel where, from the beginning, the reader knows exactly what is going to happen, but continues to read the rest of the book for a desperate need to find out more details such as why and how. In time, Mankell may well achieve that, but with A Judgement in Stone Rendell already has.
Despite that the reader knows what's going to happen, there is more compulsion to turn the pages even than in a normal detective story. The psychological insights and the gradual movements towards the foreshadowed events are absolutely gripping - this novel is possibly Rendell's most focused depiction of a mind driven to madness, mad actions, despite not being inherently "mad".
It's also told in a wonderful style. A retrospective one, looking back on events as if you are being told a story by a person in the room with you. It's almost delivered as a true-crime case study, a proper scientific rendering of murder.
It is truly superb. Only Rendell could write a novel where the psychoses of an illiterate lead to catastrophic murder. The writing is brilliant, the description of colliding classes is inspiring and very well-done indeed. Tension and suspension fill the pages until the very last, as the two women (Eunice and her friend Joan, follow down this terrible path.) How did it happen?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We Know Whodunnit! 24 Feb 2006
By A Customer
I've always hated mystery novels where I have to guess who the killer is, and I can't resist cheating by reading the last few pages. So when I read the first sentence of this book, "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family...." I was hooked. And it's a fantastic book, made all the more exciting because you know what's going to happen to this family and you want to shout out and warn them. If any film companies are reading this, it would make a fantastic drama! And thank goodness I don't know anyone like Eunice, she's truly dreadful. A gripping book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A jolly good read.
This is the first non-Wexford I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was plenty of suspense, intrigue and, for me, humour - even if a little macabre! Read more
Published 3 days ago by Christine Baehr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The usual gripping Ruth Rendell - not easy to put down..
Published 10 days ago by June Barr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent product
Published 10 days ago by Llinos
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
Hard going
Published 19 days ago by andrew rodger
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
This is my first Ruth Rendell book and it won't be my last...its a really good read but I found the characters a little bit too cliched, hence 4 stars rather than 5 stars, but a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Poppymu
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect thank you
Published 2 months ago by Caroline Biggar
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good mystery and story of a sociopathic woman who never got it right!
Published 2 months ago by Linda McCullough
4.0 out of 5 stars david1947
excellent very clever and different storyline my first ruth rendell book but definetely not the last her attention to detail was first class
Published 7 months ago by David1947
4.0 out of 5 stars an excellent read
Normal,well written Ruth Rendell stuff, A little annoying on the class front, very us and them, but an unusual idea well expressed.
Published 8 months ago by edwina procter
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruth Rendell at her best
Carefully plotted and starts slowly, soon building to a page turning pace. We get to understand the characters, and it certainly made me think. Gets the imagination going to.
Published 8 months ago by brian wise
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