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Thirteen Steps Down [Audiobook] [MP3 CD]

Ruth Rendell , Ric Jerrom
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Sep 2014
Mix Cellini (which he pronounces with an 'S' rather than a 'C') is superstitious about the number 13. In the musty old house where he is the lodger, there are thirteen steps down to the landing below his rooms, which he keeps spick and span. His elderly landlady, Gwendolen Chawcer, was born in St Blaise House, and lives her life almost exclusively through her library of books, so cannot see the decay and neglect around her. The Notting Hill neighbourhood has changed radically over the last fifty years, and 10 Rillington Place, where the notorious John Christie committed a series of foul murders, has been torn down. Mix is obsessed with the life of Christie and his small library is composed entirely of books on the subject. He has also developed a passion for a beautiful model who lives nearby - a woman who would not look at him twice. Both landlady and lodger inhabit weird worlds of their own. But when reality intrudes into Mix's life, a long pent-up violence.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; MP3 Una edition (23 Sep 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1491535784
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491535783
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 13.5 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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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.

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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 the Hardcover edition.


"Ruth Rendell is, unequivocally, the most brilliant mystery novelist of our time" (Patricia Cornwell) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places 28 Dec 2005
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good scene builder and great finish 15 Jun 2006
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rendell still rules. 6 July 2005
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly original 24 Aug 2005
By M. V. Clarke VINE VOICE
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
all ok
Published 1 month ago by David Pavett
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books i have ever read
This was the novel that confirmed Ruth Rendell's mastery once and for all. I actually read it after watching the TV adaptation, which is not usually the way round I would approach... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amelia L. Quirk
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy, gripping, full of superstition.
Firstly, I must confess to not being a huge Ruth Rendell fan.

I have read a couple of her other books and not been overly impressed, but I was drawn to this one after... Read more
Published 7 months ago by xVickyLeighx
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable
This is the first Ruth Rendell book I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mix and Gwendoline (and, to a lesser extent, Narissa) were some of the most well-developed and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by G. Keogh
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read
Took a long time to get into this book and it seemed to drag on. Nearly gave up before the end.
Not up to usual standard of Ruth Rendell books.
Published 19 months ago by S. M. Brown
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best
I don't like books that have titles which are misleading. The thirteen steps have almost nothing to do with the actual story. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mr. J. Alexander
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirteen Steps Down
I have read almost all of Ruth Rendell's books but was disappointed by this one. I disliked the characters and found them incredible.
Published 20 months ago by Sue Keane
5.0 out of 5 stars thirteen steps down
my sister wanted me to buy this for her. she loved it. she loves all ruth rendell books you see
Published 22 months ago by Mrs T
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Mind of a Psychopath
Ruth Rendell is one of the best writers of crime fiction, and it's her characterizations that are so fascinating and make a story is believable. Mix Cellini is a psychopath. Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2012 by Literary Critic
4.0 out of 5 stars Crass elements in ending
I'm a huge Rendell fan, and absolutely love the book - it's classic Rendell - up to the last few pages but there are elements in the ending which are completely crass and which... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2011 by Amazon customer
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