Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It's summer, so it's time to read for fun. I mean, if not now, when? For me, fun relaxing reading invariably means mystery novels. So I want to share my love for somebody who in my opinion is the best living mystery writer in the world: Ruth Rendell (she also sometimes writes as Barbara Vine.)

Rendell has a regular smart-detective-obtuse-sidekick series (Inspector Wexford Series). Those who like traditional mysteries with a murder, a police investigation, and a revelation at the end, would certainly enjoy them. I, however, prefer other books by Rendell.

Her main strength, in my view, is the way she writes about characters who are initially slightly eccentric but who gradually experience a descent into insanity. The writing is really good, the plots are gripping. She achieves that, however, not so much through action as through atteention to character development. Rendell doesn't write about car chases or the mafia. She doesn't pile on bodies or go for gory details. The tension in her novels mounts slowly but inexorably. The characters she creates are among the most memorable you will ever encounter. Rendell's books are not about shocking the readers, they are about showing us the horrors that often hide behind the mundane, the ordinary, the seemingly insignificant.
Here are some of my favorite novels by her:

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