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Talking To Strange Men Paperback – 21 Apr 1994

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (21 April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099535300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099535300
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.9 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Strange, disturbing, seductive" (Newsweek)

"Stunningly clever - another notable example of Miss Rendell's ingenuity and versatility" (Spectator)

"Rendell knows how to make your hair stand up straight on your head" (Maeve Binchy)

"The mistress of mystery" (Daily Mirror)

"Ruth Rendell is not only the finest crime novelist there is, but one of the finest novelists writing in the English language" (Scotsman)

Book Description

Why adults should never indulge in child's play...
A psychologically disturbing story from the world's greatest mystery writer and author of bestselling crime thrillers, including Thirteen Steps Down.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
John Creevey could only guess at what the coded messages were for...were they the work of a drugs ring, a protection racket, a spy ring, or something else equally sinister?
Unbeknownst to him, John has stumbled upon some teenagers' spy-game, played out between two rival "centres" based in the city. They play amateurish espionage games, trying always to get one-up on one another, and leave coded messages detailing latest orders and objectives. Recently separated from his wife, John is lonely and slightly depressed, and becomes obsessed with these strange messages. Sometimes, he dedicates whole days to cracking the codes, and eventually these strange messages drag John and those around him down into a tangle of revenge and murder.
This is classic Rendell, which is of course to say that it is crime writing that does not get any better. The mundane details of everyday life ground the plot firmly in a hard reality, but the originality and hints of surrealism cast it into darkness and make it sparkle with something very special indeed. The characters are drawn with brilliant insight - the children playing their inconsequential power-games are brilliant generic creations, and John, obsessing over the codes and messages as they rush to fill the void in his life. Of course, the twin plotlines merge in the end as only a Rendellian plot can, in an understated cataclysm of unexpected brutality. She spins her web with care and tenderness, and then inevitably it traps its victim, horrifically.
In many ways, of course Talking to Strange Men is trademark Rendell. It contains everything we expect, but of course it is also unique in its originality. That she has written over 50 books now and has yet to repeat herself and continues to be original is a truly stunning achievement.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not overly familiar with Ruth Rendell's work, and stumbled across this by chance in the local library. I think it's a fascinating read, exceptionally well-written and shot through with wonderful descriptions of an unnamed city (somewhere in the UK, probably in England) through the changing weather and seasons between winter and the end of summer.

Overall, it combines a fairly standard "husband dumped for former lover" with an initially standard "unexplained murder from years ago" with an original "schoolboys playing at spies". Along with these three major plot lines, other strands intertwine. Although the coincidences that link the strands are possibly a little *too* coincidental, there are some satisfyingly surprising reveals, some unexpected twists and turns, and a well-crafted murky ending.

The writing is quite dark, and the tone quite subdued and restrained. I found it very intelligently written, by which I mean that not everything is explained and much lies waiting to be deduced by the thoughtful reader. There's much less dialogue than in many novels of and about the period, and the author manages to write many passages of descriptive prose that deserve careful, loving reading. Especially the description of the city, as mentioned earlier.

An excellent book.
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Format: Paperback
John Creevey could only guess at what the coded messages were for...were they the work of a drugs ring, a protection racket, a spy ring, or something else equally sinister?
Unbeknownst to him, John has stumbled upon some teenagers' spy-game, played out between two rival "centres" based in the city. They play amateurish espionage games, trying always to get one-up on one another, and leave coded messages detailing latest orders and objectives. Recently separated from his wife, John is lonely and slightly depressed, and becomes obsessed with these strange messages. Sometimes, he dedicates whole days to cracking the codes, and eventually these strange messages drag John and those around him down into a tangle of revenge and murder.
This is classic Rendell, which is of course to say that it is crime writing that does not get any better. The mundane details of everyday life ground the plot firmly in a hard reality, but the originality and hints of surrealism cast it into darkness and make it sparkle with something very special indeed. The characters are drawn with brilliant insight - the children playing their inconsequential power-games are brilliant generic creations, and John, obsessing over the codes and messages as they rush to fill the void in his life. Of course, the twin plotlines merge in the end as only a Rendellian plot can, in an understated cataclysm of unexpected brutality. She spins her web with care and tenderness, and then inevitably it traps its victim, horrifically.
In many ways, of course Talking to Strange Men is trademark Rendell. It contains everything we expect, but of course it is also unique in its originality. That she has written over 50 books now and has yet to repeat herself and continues to be original is a truly stunning achievement.
Read more ›
Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this story, its theme was original but very credible. It was very gripping throughout and particularly so in the rather frightening scene towards the end. It's a psychological thriller as all those originally published under the name of Barbara Vine, I prefer these to the ordinary whodunnit. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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