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2.8 out of 5 stars28
2.8 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2014
This was so disappointing, it was hard be believe it was a Ruth Rendell book. I wonder what she was thinking of and come to think of it, what was her editor and publisher thinking of. The reviews on the book indicated it was 'compulsive' and 'gripping' but these were clearly reviews of her other books as there was nothing compulsive or gripping about this book. I think she was having a go at a light hearted bit of comedy (I did laugh a couple of times) but if that was the case, comedy is not her forte and she should go back to what she does best. Not only was it a boring story, it wasn't even well written and the characters were just plain silly. Anyone that reads this as their first Ruth Rendell will not bother picking up another of hers, which is why it seems to me so foolish of her to write something so bad as most of her usual stuff is so good. Don't let this put you off Ruth Rendell but don't bother with this book.
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on 1 February 2004
The basic idea with such writers as Rendell, who inhabit the top echelons of crime writing along with P.D. James, Ian Rankin and Regind Hill is, they can't write bad books. They don't suddenly loose their powers that have held them in such good stead for so many years. However, what they may do is write a book that is different, that doesn't appeal so strongly to some people. This is much the case here. The Rottweiler is not among Rendell's best work (as James's "The Murder Room" wasn't), but it isn't actually a BAD book. Rendell has just turned her hand in a different direction, one that people may not like quite as much... This is much the case here.
Some aspects of this book are, technically, excellent. For example, as other reviewers have pointed out: how Rendell deals with themes of love, the needs of men and women for each other. Also, ideas of how we percieve and others, and of the power of the media and of assumption. Also, RR's manipulation of the reader is done here better than ever before. As has already been pointed out, that rather perplexing feeling of empathy (NOT sympathy) she makes us feel for the killer, but the anger we feel towards a malicious blackmailer. In those respects, Rendell is still on her throne, possibly more than ever before. While "The Babes in the Wood", her last, was full of symbolism, this is full of demonstration.
While here, as always, she creates some great characters, a couple of them feel a bit cliche, possibly a bit silly. However, that leads me onto another point. The fact that they are actually SUPPOSED to be silly. The Rottweiler is actually a pretty funny book, in parts definitely a social satire, but if you don't realise that it's supposed to be, then some bits of it could fall apart and the tone possibly doesn't feel quite right. What you think of The Rottweiler probably depends upon how you look at it, how you expected it to be. If you look at it from the right angle (which is different one from the one you'd normally look at Rendell's work) then this is a very good book. If you don't look at it right, then, yes you could easily not like The Rottweiler at all.
As I say, personally, I don't think it's her best (there's no real "shock" factor as there is sometimes) but I still enjoyed it a lot, and some bits of it really made me think. I reccomend it, but only for those capable of looking at it in the right way.
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The Rottweiler is the eponymous name for the serial killer operating in the same area as this book is set. In fact, a few chapters in we find out who it is. However, I found this book harder to get into than her others (and I'm a big fan). For some reason I didn't care as much about the characters and their inner lives. Ines runs an antique shop and lives above the shop along with her tenants. Her employee, Zainab, is playing rich men off against each other whilst enjoying a happy marriage at home. Ines herself is a widow, secretly watching videos of her late actor husband. Will is a handsome boy with learning diffculties and an aunt torn by her responsibilities towards him.There are many other charcters too, but I'd be here all day. Once the characters had been established and the murderer revealed, I was about a third of the way through the book and found I lost interest. The characters didn't get under my skin like those in many of her books and perhaps it could be said that there were so many characters given so much detail that it was hard to concentrate on so many sub plots. I've given it three stars just because I am a loyal fan and she writes so well, but this was a plodder I'm afraid and after three attempts I've put it away for a while. Ruth Rendell writes superbly, but if this was your first Rendell it might put you off. Try "The Bridesmaid", "Going Wrong" or any Wexford to see her at her best.
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on 31 May 2010
Traditional Ruth Rendell fans expecting a taut suspense novel will be disappointed indeed. The serial killer plot is the weakest aspect of the tale. The overall tone throughout is humorous, and the identity of the serial killer is revealed a third of the way through the book. From that point onward, the only mystery remaining is the killer's motivation and the solution to this mystery is astoundingly obvious and trite, when one considers it is coming from the hand of one the mystery genre's great modern authors.

All I can conclude is that Rendell wanted to write a sort of social comedy, but felt she had to throw in a murder plot, weak as it is. Unfortunately, the social comedy is not that interesting either. Zeinab and her matrimonial machinations are mildly amusing and the antique shop setting was potentially interesting, but that's about it. It seems to me that Rendell should have gone all out for a "straight" novel here and dispensed with the serial murder plot, which she clearly was not too interested in anyway. Maybe if she had concentrated more on the mainstream elements, she might have had something closer to, say, Muriel Spark. Instead, what we get in the Rottweiler is mostly wet biscuit.

For me, the most surreal thing in the book is Rendell's description of a fictitious American film starring Russell Crowe and Sandra Bullock. From the daft description she gives of it, I was wondering when was the last time Rendell has seen a film?
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If you are looking for a sensational and bloodthirsty serial-killer tale in the mould of Thomas Harris et al, this book will probably not be to your taste. Ruth Rendell novels are about character, and no-one can match her expertise in probing the darker shades of human behaviour. The crimes here form a backdrop to the real action, which is the shifting tensions and suspicions between the employees and lodgers at a Marleybone antiques shop, who begin to believe they have a killer in their midst. If you enjoy an intelligent character study that also happens to be a rattlingly good read and positively bristling with tension, this is the book for you. If you want cheap, nasty thrills, look elsewhere.
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Ruth Rendell here again visits London, the place she is so able to render darkly atmospheric and menacing. There is a serial killer on the loose, and he has been dubbed “The Rottweiler” by the media, due to a bite mark found on the first victims neck, even though that bite mark was later traced back to her boyfriend. His only signature is that he takes one of each victims’ personal items – perhaps a watch, or necklace – after having garrotted them.
The latest victim is found near Inez Ferry’s antique shop, and because of this the lives of a small group of disparate people will become drawn into this case and it’s increasingly introverted investigation. For the police are becoming more and more convinced that someone connected to the shop – anyone from the exotic assistant Zeinab to one of the tenants in the flats above – could very well be a homicidal maniac...
This is everything that I expect a Ruth Rendell novel to be. It is, of course, impeccably written and psychologically excellent, so I need say no more about that. Her characters are also particularly noteworthy, especially the compelling Inez and Will, who is possibly the most moving character she has ever depicted.. You would easily be forgiven for thinking that this is a serial killer novel, but this is really no more a serial killer novel than the Bible is a book solely about God. It is so much more than that. It’s a book about the people involved, how they can be draw into darkness and uncertainty through the effects of the gravity of crime. It’s a book about how peoples live always changed when confronted with the horrific. At times, the serial killings themselves seem very on the periphery (I was going to say “incidental” that that would be entirely the wrong word) and it is eerie to read about them in such a detached way. It’s also interesting how we, essentially, only know as much about the murders as the characters themselves do through their exposure to the media.
To be honest, it’s almost impossible to review a Ruth Rendell book and truly convince of her genius and say what you really want to without illustrating it by disclosing important aspects of the plot or simply re-telling little aspects of the story, which makes the task I have very hard. But, rest assured, this book of a contemporary and chilling London and a small group of people within it is brilliant. It’s a novel that questions, among many things, the nature of morality, how we perceive others and ourselves, and it tackles, as many of her books do on some level, the problem of “How eccentric or odd do you have to be before you become a danger to others, or even yourself?” And yet, it is really about none of those things. Those are just tiny stitches in her tapestry, small but illuminating strokes on her canvas. It’s about people, and the spider-web of life that connects everything to everything else. And I consider it to be brilliance in its purest form. The only way to understand this is to read one of her works, because there is no one else today writing books quite like this. She’s our modern Scheherezade. I just want her to keep telling stories all night long.
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on 4 March 2010
Other reviewers have complained about the plot inconsistencies, and I would concur with this; the confusion over how old Alexander was when his father died, the burglar alarm code, the natural, unmade-up, blonde character, Kim, who supposedly looks like (the famously sultry brunette) Cindy Crawford in one scene.

More disappointing is the way in which the story fizzled out at the end. I'd spent hours devouring this novel, as I have done in the past with Rendell/Vine offerings, expecting to be left in a state of shock or wonder by some interesting little twist that had been alluded to earlier in the tale. No such luck.

All in all, rather lazy and slapdash.
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on 26 November 2009
If you haven't read Rendell before, don't start with this novel. Having read all of Rendell's novels preceding this one, I can safely say this is one of her worst.

It's very dull and predictable, the characters are all carbon copies of characters she's written about before and she has nothing new or interesting to say about them, other than that people are still just as selfish today as they ever were. Never do you get the sense of a community under siege from the title serial killer. But maybe that is the point.
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on 23 August 2010
This my second Ruth Rendell book.
The first was "Make Death Love Me", which I thought was ok.
This one was more of a disappointment. Not thrilling. None of the characters interesting or very believable.
If it had been interesting in other ways, I wouldn't have minded that the killer's identity was revealed so early.
I wonder whether I should bother trying any more.
Have I just been unlucky in my choices?
I read a Barbara Vine book a long time ago and seem to remember that was good.
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on 12 February 2005
I love Ruth Rendells books, my favourite was Tree of Hands. This is her usual formula, a group of different people thrown together in the same living space, and watching as their lives weave in and out of each other. But something was missing here, it felt tired and possibly this formula needs a rest. I noticed (like another reviewer) the wrong code being entered and thought it was part of the plot, but it wasnt. I also found it hard to believe that a character would hit by chance on the safe combination. Too handy by far.
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