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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Flesh, Ruth Rendell
I read this book years ago. Years ago. I lost my copy. As soon as randomhouse reprinted it, I snapped up this new version and immediately re-read it. It's another Rendell gem. I won't say too much about it, because it's brilliant in the ways Rendell is traditionally brilliant (and I've gone on about them enough in previous reviews), but it's without doubt another of her...
Published on 11 Jan. 2005 by RachelWalker

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit disappointed
For me, Ruth Rendell us usually a safe bet but I was a bit disappointed with this one. It started off fine and I was surprised to find myself feeling some empathy towards the man who had crippled a police officer who was trying to calm him down and arrest him. Later in the book, however, the story seemed too contrived.
Published 19 months ago by nanaf


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Flesh, Ruth Rendell, 11 Jan. 2005
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Live Flesh (Paperback)
I read this book years ago. Years ago. I lost my copy. As soon as randomhouse reprinted it, I snapped up this new version and immediately re-read it. It's another Rendell gem. I won't say too much about it, because it's brilliant in the ways Rendell is traditionally brilliant (and I've gone on about them enough in previous reviews), but it's without doubt another of her excellent pieces. Victor Jenner is a truly horrific Rendell character - possibly one of her most memorable, in that Live Flesh is an intense study of his character and no other. He's the beast at the centre of it all, and with the usual frightening insight it is that she crafts him. As one reads, you cannot help but shiver as this self-centred criminal lays the blame for his violence at every door but his own, as he finds everyone but himself wanting as concerns the path of his fate. Self-obsessed in the traditionally Rendellian fashion, he considers himself one of life's great victims ("as much a victim as Fleetwood, really", he muses at one point - David Fleetwood is the policeman Victor shoots in the spine, paralysing him for life, in the opening scene). Never has one man's mania for the self seemed so real, never has the mind of a deluded been made so starkly logical. Rendell might, indeed, have outdone herself in this respect. She almost has you believing it along with Victor.
Live Flesh is another of Rendell's Gold Dagger winners, and again its deserved. It's a deeply unsettling, but beautifully wrougt, portrait of a scarred mind, written impeccably and, even when you come to the last page, there are still a few drops of bitter poison left in the vial. Superb.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling, In-Depth Psychological Thriller!, 27 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Live Flesh (Paperback)
"Live Flesh" is not the usual crime mystery/thriller. It is, however, a thrilling psychological study of a rapist, Victor Jenner, who suffers from chorea, a disease of the nervous system marked by involuntary, jerky movements of the arms, legs, and/or face. Sometimes this illness is called "live flesh." Victor also has a severe phobia of tortoises, along with a multitude of other neuroses. Throughout the novel, he feels a need for psychiatric treatment, but never follows through. Typically, he blames the system for not providing him with therapy. He does understand that he has serious problems, though, and more often than not knows the difference between right and wrong. The inimitable Ruth Rendell thoroughly explores Jenner's motives, secrets, and complex emotions. She paints a chilling portrait of a man doomed by violence he cannot control. This is obviously much more a book driven by characters, and their development, than by action. The heart of "Live Flesh" lies in the complexity of Victor Jenner's personality and how he interacts with others, two characters in particular. These people are all steeped in a web of consequences stemming from one single event, a gunshot, which alters their lives forever.
Victor Jenner was convicted of shooting a young police officer in the lower back and permanently crippling him. He had been holding a young woman hostage in her bedroom, after breaking and entering her home, while escaping from the scene of an attempted rape. David Fleetwood, the officer, had been trying to gain the woman's release. Victor was not tried for the attempted rape, or the numerous other acts of sexual violence he had successfully committed. The police probably had no idea he was responsible for the crimes. After ten years Jenner is released early, for good behavior. He has serious problems adjusting to life after incarceration. But then, he always had problems adjusting. His irrational thought processes cause him to blame everyone but himself for the events leading up to the shooting. Underneath, however, he feels tremendous guilt for giving in to his irresistible urges which cause so much harm to others. The author allows the reader to enter Jenner's mind, his very thoughts, throughout the novel. He constantly constructs false scenarios which absolve him of guilt. Primary among his rationalizations is that if David Fleetwood had not taunted him by saying that the gun was a fake, a replica, then he wouldn't have had to fire it in order to prove that it was real. Other rationalizations include: if the girl hadn't screamed, then he wouldn't have had to hold her hostage; and if his uncle hadn't owned a gun, which he had easy access to, he never would have had it in his possession. Victor is also firmly convinced that he is incapable of restraining himself because of the chorea, which acts up when he is stressed. He believes that his behavior is as blameless and uncontrollable as the involuntary twitching which torments him.
The plot takes an unusual twist when Victor looks to meet the man he maimed, now wheelchair bound. His delusions allow him to think that, for the first time in his life, he has found true friendship. I must say that I really empathized with Victor, right up until the conclusion - which is a stunning one. His crimes are heinous, but so is the life he has to live with himself. I don't absolve him. I just feel terribly sorry for him - which is all Ms. Rendell's doing. Her characters are rich and so believable. And her narrative is spellbinding. This is a brilliant analysis and portrayal of a deranged man.
JANA
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN INTRIGUING LOOK INTO THE SOCIO-PATHIC CRIMINAL MIND..., 13 Sept. 2003
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Live Flesh (Paperback)
This is an absorbing story that could only have been crafted by Ruth Rendell, the doyenne of the quirky murder mystery and chiller killer thrillers. Here, she takes a look into the socio-pathic mind of the amoral Victor Jenner, released back into the world after serving ten years in prison for shooting and paralyzing a young police sergeant.
He tracks down the now wheelchair bound officer, meeting both him and his devoted, beautiful girlfriend. You see, in Victor's skewed world view, it was the officer's fault that he got shot, costing Victor ten of the best years of his life. Victor just wants to set the record straight. Who would have thought that they could all be friends? Therein lies the tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 21 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Live Flesh (Kindle Edition)
Absolutely gripping, first class stuff. Victor is released from a ten year prison term after shooting David Fleetwood, a police officer in the back....the man whom he blames for stealing his youth....
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit disappointed, 4 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Live Flesh (Kindle Edition)
For me, Ruth Rendell us usually a safe bet but I was a bit disappointed with this one. It started off fine and I was surprised to find myself feeling some empathy towards the man who had crippled a police officer who was trying to calm him down and arrest him. Later in the book, however, the story seemed too contrived.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Top Page-turner, 22 Aug. 2013
By 
Mrs. M. S. Garnett "redhead" (Cumbria UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live Flesh (Kindle Edition)
Again the author lived up to expectations. Convincing plots are subtly drawn and slowly revealed. As threads are drawn together the reader is constantly surprised by the outcomes.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could be ruth Rendell's best ever, 3 Oct. 2013
By 
J. Price (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live Flesh (Kindle Edition)
In 'Live Flesh' Rendell takes you inside the characters - more, she takes you inside yourself. It is so scary it is a relief to get to the end of the book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars live flesh, 29 Sept. 2012
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Its very wordy and long winded would be better to watch on TV than read but intresting enough to continue.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crime Novel, 6 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Live Flesh (Paperback)
I am not a great fan of Ruth rendell and after reading this book it has done nothing to change my view. However books are very personal and I'm sure her fans will love it. It was delivered quickly and well wrapped.
Agnes McLuckie
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never ceases to amaze me, 23 Feb. 2007
By 
J. Gillespie (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live Flesh (Paperback)
I'm reading this book at the moment - again. It nust be the 7th or 8th time for me to read it and each time I find things I missed. It's very dear to me as well becasue it covers areas of London that I know very well, but the character of Victor, as a previous reviewer has commented, is one of Ruth Rendell's enduring "villains". The commas are there because the character has been created with so many complex facets that the word villian is a hard one to apply. A wonderful book - I thought today that it probably is my favourite work of non-fiction ever, and that says something. Read, enjoy and think
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Live Flesh by Ruth Rendell (Paperback - 5 Jan. 1995)
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