Monthly Archives: April 2009

Ruth Rendell, The Secret House of Death

(this review contains a minor plot spoiler)

I got a great deal of entertainment out of the mid-Sixties English suburbia period detail. I don’t remember that time directly, and it is now long enough ago for the setting to seem exotic, even alien. The assumptions society still made about the role of women and the relative rarity of divorced single parents. £5,000 making a huge difference to the price of a house. Elm trees. Barathea*.

This is one of Ruth Rendell’s earliest thrillers, and the plotting creaks in places. For example, the Devon yokel who spontaneously reveals a crucial piece of information to another character who has wandered into his shop. The degree of coincidence would have been acceptable in a Victorian novel, but the modern reader expects greater verisimilitude.

*Despite having read widely, I did not previously know this word, though some older and younger members of my family did!

  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; 1st edition (January 1, 1982)
  • ISBN-10: 0099286602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099286608
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