Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rendell still rules., 6 July 2005
This review is from: Thirteen Steps Down (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. Treated, in the sense that the fraying of a character who is barely keeping it together is relayed so gradually and masterfully that it all makes perfect sense when the inevitable catastrophic conclusion arrives. No one does this particular crime sub-genre as well as Ruth Rendell.
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