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Thirteen Steps Down Paperback – 2 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099580039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099580034
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 378,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth Rendell was an exceptional crime writer, and will be remembered as a legend in her own lifetime. Her groundbreaking debut novel, From Doon With Death, was first published in 1964 and introduced the reader to her enduring and popular detective, Inspector Reginald Wexford, who went on to feature in twenty-four of her subsequent novels.

With worldwide sales of approximately 20 million copies, Rendell was a regular Sunday Times bestseller. Her sixty bestselling novels include police procedurals, some of which have been successfully adapted for TV, stand-alone psychological mysteries, and a third strand of crime novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Very much abreast of her times, the Wexford books in particular often engaged with social or political issues close to her heart.

Rendell won numerous awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View, a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986, and the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990. In 2013 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

Ruth Rendell died in May 2015. Her final novel, Dark Corners, is scheduled for publication in October 2015.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Like several of Ruth Rendell's other novels of suspense, Thirteen Steps Down is a book about a couple of murders waiting to happen. Mix Cellini is a half-educated mechanic specializing in exercise machines, who indulges himself in alcohol, self-medication, celebrity-stalking and an obsession with Christie, the Rillington Place murderer. What dooms Cellini, and his victims, is not so much any active principle of evil, as selfishness and a tendency to drift into things that does the job almost as efficiently.

The house where he rents an apartment is a wonderful example of the Bad Place; his eighty-something landlady Gwendolyn is another person who drifts, in her case into nostalgia and slow decay. Mix is a deeply modern monster, but Gwendolyn is one of the proofs that this is not just a bitch at modernity; Mix's potential victim, supermodel Nerissa, is charming, smart and blessed. There are a few too many coincidences here for Thirteen Steps Down to quite make it on to the list of great Rendell--her best books are more tightly constructed--but it is certainly a book which her admirers will want.--Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"If Ruth Rendell were not slotted into the category of writer of mystery novels, she would have won the Booker long ago for the sly style that sidles up on the reader, full of cozening phrases that ensnare." (Books of the Year, Evening Standard)

"There are the fears that haunt us, the nightmarish urban myths of our time... One of the most remarkable talents writing today. Ruth Rendell is a peer of the realm, and she deserves to be: she's a national treasure" (Independent)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
4.99 stars
"In Rendell's view, we seldom understand how life works and how little control we have over it; criminals are the biggest dolts of all for risking so much on schemes that are bound to go awry. What's more, murderers also lack sympathetic imagination (as opposed to the narcissistic imagination of fantasy)." So says, Ruth Rendell, and as we read this novel, we say "I Believe, I Believe!"
Mix Cellini is a work-out equipment specialist. He repairs the "things". He also obsesses about John Christie, the English serial killer, and he knows everything about him. This gives us the first clue. There are many serial killers in many mysteries, but Ruth Rendell's is the best. Mix keeps us on the edge of our seat. He is funny at times; he eats junk food and drinks strange concoctions of booze. He is in fact a very strange man, but likeable in some sense. He rents rooms at St Blaise House in the Notting Hill area which he keeps spic and span, from Gwendolen Chawcer. Gwendolen has lived in this same house since she was born- and the house is old and decrepit. Gwendolen lives in her library and her bedroom. Many rooms, none of them clean and Gwendolen lives in her own little world. She is caught up in the 1940's when she first fell in love, and she has never moved on. She, in fact, wears the same clothes. Well made and expensive, yes, but old. Gwendolen fell in love with her mother's physician many years ago, and the unrequited love has never bloomed. She lives her life in her old memories. She does not much like Mr. Cellini, nor he her. Both are obsessed. Both are strange and fixed in their ways, and that is where the difference lies. Gwendolen is harmless in her obsession. Mix has two obsessions, John Christie and the model Nessar Nash.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. J Thompson on 6 July 2005
Format: Paperback
Mix Cellini has chosen his place of abode to fall in with his own particular obsession; the deaths and times of the English killer John Christie. This is the murderer's old stomping ground, and if it means living in a draughty old white elephant in the middle of the suburbs with an annoying old woman for a landlord, than so be it. There are other things to do with his time than just devour the many books written about Christie, and to walk the same lanes and alleys that the killer once did. He has plans to move into the life of a beautiful model who lives nearby. Mix is sure that once Nerissa knows him, she will want him just as much, and will soon lift him right up where he believes he belongs.

Gwendolen Chawcer has spent a lifetime in St Blaise House. She used to spend her days looking after her parents, then just her father, and now just only herself. It is a necessary evil that she must take in a lodger, the mostly disagreeable Mix Cellini. Their alliance is an uneasy but necessary arrangement. Miss Chawcer pines for a love lost more than fifty years ago, and upon hearing of the death of the man's wife, she is certain that he will want her in his life. Tiresome to fall ill and have one's friends take over, and they don't trust that strange man upstairs either. He doesn't know that she has a key to his flat, and has smelt a very strange smell coming from upstairs.

If you are into the psychological thrillers that author Ruth Rendell writes under the name of Barbara Vine, "Thirteen Steps Down" is right up your alley. With the action largely being relayed through the movements of your typical Rendell tortured loner, you are treated to witnessing the slow breakdown of an unstable mind.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bc V. Price on 15 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
I must compliment Ruth Rendell on an excellent crime novel. She conducts a masterclass in the genre and there are few contemporary writers that can match her skill in developing characters in full three dimensions. No cardbaord cut outs here.

The main characters in the book are certainly not likeable. From the fantasist lodger Mix Cellini his day job exercise equipement technician, who drools over top model Nerissa Nash in his fantasies, thinking he will win her heart.Then there is his equally unlikeable Landlady Gwendolen Chawcer.Then Madam Shoshanna, blowsy mystic and spa owner, Yikes these are creepy people who inhabit morbid inner worlds. In fact the only likeable characters are the VIctim and the lesser supporting characters in the book.

The chapters build slowly and masterfully to a wonder crescendo and finish. I strongly recomend this as good holiday reading. Get it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE on 24 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
Ruth Rendell's 'Thirteen Steps Down' is a story of obsession, violence, mental instability and morbid fascination. It's a complex plot, with many characters, most of whom are connected to each other in all manner of family or business relationships. The central figures are Mix, an engineer with a fitness company, and his elderly landlord Gwendolen. Mix is a complex character - fascinated by a local murderer of yesteryear, ghosts, and a fashion model. His attempts to balance all 3 interests, or more accurately, obsessions, lead to him losing his job and ending up in all sorts of awkward and confusing situations. Meanwhile, Gwendolen is lost in a bygone age, not comprehending the machinations of the modern world, and pining after her first love, Dr Stephen Reeves.
The plot is long and winding, and involves all characters in a convincing and steady build up. Rendell's portrayal of moods and conversations is superb. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it without hesitation. I often find Rendell's standalone novels to be better than the Wexford series, and this is no exception.
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