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The Girl Next Door Hardcover – 14 Aug 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (14 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091958830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091958831
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 140,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The Girl Next Door is vintage Rendell and a perfect celebration of her half-century. She’s so effortlessly prolific that it’s easy to take her for granted; we assume that if we miss one of her books, there’ll be another one along in a minute. This novel, however, reminded me of the singularity of Ruth Rendell’s talent, her effortless mastery of language and her uncanny genius for mapping a criminal mind." (The Times)

"Rendell is as masterful as ever; her writing tense, brittle, and brilliant." (Sunday Mirror)

"She is the peer of Kingsley Amis and Muriel Spark. The Girl Next Door is as great a novel as Stanley and the Women or Memento Mori . . . a joy to read. Rendell's novels establish a sense of order that is deeply satisfying." (Evening Standard)

"Fifty years on, the girl from Essex has become the unchallenged crime queen of suburbia. Her powers of observation are as acute as ever, and she writes about old age with as much gusto as any of the subjects she has tackled in her long career." (Sunday Times)

"This book is extraordinarily courageous, a demonstration that fiction can take us where reportage dares not go." (Independent)

"Rendell gives an acutely observed portrayal of old age through her characters’ regrets, losses and bewilderment . . . Difficult themes such as death, usually dressed up in mystery in a crime novel are, thanks to these elderly protagonists, real, hard-hitting and constant." (Observer)

"That The Girl Next Door works as a standalone novel is partly attributable to Rendell’s deftness in parrying comparisons with her best-known creation. It also unravels a satisfying mystery, stretching tentacles into the past." (Spectator)

"An excellent analysis of re-found youth, this novel shows how people can surprise themselves even in their winter years." (Sunday Express)

"In this engaging novel, the portraits of elderly people living today and their preoccupations are presented with almost sociological precision, and scattered throughout are acute observations about changing language and manners." (Literary Review)

"Nobody does the suburbs like Ruth Rendell: in her expert hands they exert a morbid fascination. Behind the immaculate exteriors lurks a world of unhappiness and deceit – and at times murder. An excellent read." (The Lady)

Book Description

The dazzling new novel from Ruth Rendell. When the bones of two severed hands are discovered in a box, an investigation into a long buried crime of passion begins. And a group of friends, who played together as children, begin to question their past.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book and it did hold me to the end, but it's not quite what you might expect from Ruth Rendell. It's not a 'whodunnit?' and so has none of the thrill of working out who the murderer is, or solving a mystery. You know from the start who the guilty party is, so you're left with a slightly curious tale about a group of ageing individuals thrown together, who have not been in much contact with each other since childhood. The characterisation is good, as you might expect, it is both sad and funny in places, and there's enough 'what will happen?' to keep you reading to the end. But it's more a tale of various personalities interacting, reflecting on what they want in life and in some cases acting in ways no-one expects, rather than being one of the mysteries for which Ruth Rendell is famous. I hoped for a classic mystery, so while I enjoyed it, I was left feeling slightly disappointed.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Ruth Rendell has a long and distinguished career as a crime novelist, both of a series involving an ongoing inspector (Wexford) and as a crime writer of standalone books, without and ongoing investigator, And then there is her writing using another name, Barbara Vine. The Vine books (which generally prefer) are rather darker and rather more devoted to complex subterranean psychology. It could be said they are really psychological thrillers.

Curiously, Rendell's latest `Barbara Vine' did not quite `bite' with me the way she usually does.

This latest Rendell is also not quite expected Rendell. For those expecting a crime, and an investigation to unmask the perpetrator it will come as a bit of a surprise to find the crime, and the perpetrator, and indeed the motive, are all explained in the blurb.

In the 40s, a man murders his wife and her lover, does a bit of dismemberment and buries their hands in a biscuit tin. (he saw them holding hands, when he came home unexpectedly, which alerted him to what was going on). Local children, including his son, play in the tunnels in semi-rural Loughton (as it was then) The tunnels will serve as a hiding place for the hands

Jumping forward more than 60 years the community of children have gone their ways, though some have kept in contact. Their lives begin to connect again when building development work uncovers the hands and the tin, and a half-hearted cold cases enquiry begins. Half-hearted as it is pretty obvious that whoever did the deed, and on whom, is most likely to be dead. The children who played in the tunnels are either themselves dead or in their seventies and more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not among those old enough to have accumulated some.
It is very daring to begin a novel with an unlikeable protagonist. We are lead to believe that this terrible person is to be the main character, and most readers prefer to be able to identify to some extent with the protagonist.
Luckily this psychopatic person leaves the scene, and keeps in the background from then on.
It is a geriatric novel, no doubt about it. All the characters from the first chapters are suddenly old, and in their twilight years.
As often is the case in crime fiction, the solving of a crime has more implications for a wider circle of people, and even between these old folks, feelings and emotions are stirred, and shaken.
After the unraveling of the crime which took place during ww||, the lives of the now very old group of people will not be the same again.
Ruth Rendell has done it again with the enthusiasm we have become used to expect from her.

People may look old on the outside, but the inside may still react in an unexpected and surprising way.

Bodil Marie - Keeping her Wits about Her.
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Format: Hardcover
Things I would like Ruth Rendell to stop doing, from now:
- pretending that all people think about when they speak is how politically correct they are being
- referring to how things used to be said/done/thought of in years past, either through her characters or in her authorial voice
- writing books as if all her audience are in their 80s

I admit, there's only so much of the above that I can take. In Wexford books I sort of expect it. In Tigerlily's Orchids and The St. Zita Society it was only a couple of the characters. But this book is pretty much all it is? Couple that with a complete lack of any suspense whatsoever, and I found this a relatively tedious read.

I get, I think, that this is more a "literary" novel about ageing and the elderly than anything else. If it is, though, it's not subtle enough. And I'm not sure I want to read Ruth Rendell for that - if she'd turned her hand to this 20 years ago, when at her peak, perhaps. At bottom, what I want from Ruth Rendell is a novel of suspense, with a sense of danger, with a few cold shocks throughout. She can do whatever she likes in the background, as long as the basic ingredients are there. Normally, I think writers should be allowed to write whatever they fancy. And that's fair enough if what they end up writing is good and satisfying, whatever it is trying to be. I find it hard to say that The Girl Next Door is either good or satisfying.

This is a novel whose message essentially is: old people are no different to the rest of us just because they are old; they continue to behave badly or well in the same way everyone else does, and have lives and loves, disappointments and joys.
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