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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 4 April 2001
I think this is my favourite Vine novel. From its tragic opening to its end it concerns itself with the people and the places of the London Underground. The often bizarre and pathological relationships between the characters make the book a tense exploration of psychological abnormality,and there's a wonderful eccentricity in the atmosphere that combined with a really original plot development and brilliant ending makes this a great read.
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on 16 May 2001
I read it last Xmas and it's a cracker!!! It has all the hallmarks of Vine - weirdness, suspense, ordinary characters doing extraordinary things and she's put a huge amount of research into it. I was hooked from beginning to end. I loved the way it focusses on a lot of characters and their stories are all sort of drawn together. When I say Pulp Fiction on London Underground, that'snot being I'd compare it to Tarrantino's film Pulp Fiction in how the disparate tales come together. I'm a bit biased as I have a love hate relationship with the tube.
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on 11 August 2005
A great book! I do prefer her writing as Barabara Vine rather than Ruth Rendell, it must be said.
This offering is typical of Vine: more than a bit odd, creepy, an exploration of the darker aspects of human nature. It's fantastically well-written, and grabs a hold of you right from the beginning. Vine introduces her characters one by one, and gradually fills in the spaces in between them, all the way up to the very last page, when the whole story falls so perfectly and neatly into place.
It's a chilling tale in parts, one in which London's Tube network becomes a veritable protagonist, a true player in the story. Vine clearly did her homework before creating this fine book, so as to give the reader all the details one needs to *be* there, in the book. Only when one's one imagination can paint a more vivid picture does she merely sketch an outline for the reader to fill in.
I read this book whilst on holiday, enjoying the Maui sun. But it took me all the way to London, to the suburbs, to the bustling Underground stations, and to the frightening darkness of the deep line Tube tunnels. Truly exemplary writing!
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on 25 November 2009
I've read pretty well all of the Ruth Rendell novels and most of the Barbara Vines, but having just read this one (it somehow escaped me) I have to say it's really the best Vine book. She's at the height of her powers here, describing London and the underground and all the strange people she's created so beautifully, and at the same time turning up the tension with exquisite timing. If you liked The House Of Stairs, you'll love this, it's actually rather better!
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on 1 October 2015
Normally I like Barbara Vine's novels but I found this one really hard going. The title refers to the London Tube and the book is about a group of people associated with it in some way who all live in an old school called the Cambridge School. One of them is writing a book about underground systems and there's a lot of factual detail about the tube which is quite interesting in a way but holds up what little action there is. There's also a group of buskers and a group of boys who like to ride on top of the trains until one of them falls off and gets killed. Unfortunately I found it very hard to identify with any of these people and the action doesn't really get going till near the end.
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on 5 January 2013
I think this is my favourite Barbara Vine - I've always been fascinated by the London Underground, and those ghost stations you can occasionally glimpse if you know where to look, and this was the perfect combination. It's just a pity Amazon couldn't get the title right for this Kindle edition - Solomon's, not Soloman's please!
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on 31 March 2014
This novel has a slightly unusual structure, in that it merges facts about the London Underground with a story in which the Tube could be said to be a protagonist.
As is usual with Ruth Rendell, the story has quite a few strange, eccentric and menacing characters. She is a master at creating suspense. I read this while commuting to and from work, and was often annoyed when I reached my stop!

The only reason I gave this 4 stars is that so few of the characters are sympathetic-with the exception of 'trainspotter'Jarvis. and the two elderly friends-Cecelia and Daphne- the others are so self absorbed and/or controlling that one loses any sympathy for them..As always, Ms.Rendell's social observations are unsparing in portraying casual neglect and indifference.
Definitely, a very good read!
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on 5 June 2012
I first borrowed this book from the library and read it when it was published in the early 90's. I would say this was one of my favourite books of all time so I was really looking forward to re-visiting it.

Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine skilfully uses the London Underground as a centre piece and around it weaves a tale of dangerous childhood games,a terrorist plot and an eccentric author writing a book about the history of the Underground system and renting out rooms to a group of very mis-matched people. Fascinating facts and snippets about the tube are masterfully incorporated into the tale and the story ends as chillingly as it started with a Peruvian wedding dress.

Sadly this story has dated due to events which have occurred since it was written and it probably wouldn't appeal to the younger reader. The theme is timeless though and it is an extremely clever, most brilliantly researched story which will always stay in my bookcase.
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on 21 July 2013
this woman can weave such a story and a plot with so many lives overlapping each other this book is impossible to put down. brilliant read
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on 18 May 2013
Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine writes fabulous convoluted stories, grittily set in London/UK. Her character analysis is amazing. This story (and many of her other stories) has stuck in my mind for some time afterwards... it definately needs a reread to enjoy all over again.
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