16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Has Rendell stalled?,
This review is from: Portobello (Hardcover)
I agree with Amber...I was also disappointed. When I reached the end I had one of those 'Is that it?' moments so went back and re-read a few sections convinced I must have missed something. As ever, it's beautifully written and the characters are perfectly formed but not at all what I've come to expect from Ruth Rendell. It's neither a murder mystery nor a psychological thriller and the strapline 'Our darkest fears can hide in the brightest places' seemed to bear no relation to the plot. There's absolutely nothing sinister in an addiction to sugar free sweets! Joel was probably the most perplexing character but even he was more manipulative than menacing.
I used to live in Ladbroke Grove and aside from recognising some of the roads and landmarks didn't feel that helped me engage with the story in any way. The characters were brilliantly crafted and believable so in that sense the hard work was done for you but this was really an exercise in people watching. The ending was all too neat and convenient; it was almost as though Ruth's writing time was up so she suddenly had to tie up all the loose ends in a rush.
Perfectly readable as it's so well written but this is no classic Rendell mystery. Also, there's an annoying continuity error in the last 10 pages re: Ella's birthday, which made me think that even the proofreader must have given up before the end! (Some of the key events take place on 14/15 August which is Ella's 40th birthday; later this is referred to as Sept 15 (p. 268) but by p. 277 it's back to August). That bugged me!