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The Girl Next Door Audio Download – Unabridged

4.0 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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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: 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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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
SOME of us have spent the best part of 50 years working on that one great novel that will make us a mint and buy us a Marbella apartment. In that time, crime queen Ruth Rendell has knocked out 65 – and this latest one is every bit as good as her first, the highly collectable From Doon With Death, way back in 1964.

She’s famous for her Sussex-based Inspector Wexford stories, which started her career, but this book’s set in Essex, close to her actual childhood stomping ground.

It kicks off in wartime with kids larking about in tunnels under a house. These are important. It’s where a complete and utter psycho places a biscuit tin containing the hands of his wife and her fancy man after he’s topped them. He sets about burning all the rest of the evidence but he’s spotted by one of the kids – who keeps what she’s seen to herself for 70-odd years.

Here in the present day builders come across the tin with its grim contents and call in the rozzers. The news brings together the bunch of now OAPs who played there as kids and could now help the probe. Through them we learn a whole lot more than whodunnit. We get to know what time does to memories, to relationships, to the world around us, to our minds.
That’s because Rendell’s always been damn good at getting us inside the heads of her characters – how they think despite the way they act and look – and by extention, ourselves, if we cared to probe harder.

Given she’s in her ninth decade she’d be forgiven for churning out a bog standard mystery, yet The Girl Next Door comes across as insightful, fresh, new and terrifying as anything else around.
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