In these pages, internationally celebrated novelist Ruth Rendell, author of Harm Done, offers a collection of unforgettable stories evocative of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, and other masters of the chilling touch.
"Piranha to Scurfy" tells of a lonely man who devotes his life to writing scathing letters to newly published authors, pointing out their many mistakes. He does so in memory of his mother, who lies buried in the garden, for reasons that emerge to haunting effect.
"The Wink" recounts the story of a woman, raped years ago in a small English town, whose patience is rewarded by a perfectly satisfying moment of revenge.
"Catamount," set in the Rocky Mountains, is seen through the eyes of an Englishwoman who perceives the ruthless ferocity that lurks behind the beauty of the landscape.
And bringing the collection of nine stories to an unforgettable conclusion is the novella-length "High Mysterious Union," a dark, relentless tale of erotic obsession and bloodless violence in remote, rural England.
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These short fictions showcase Ruth Rendell's many gifts, among them the ability to evoke a mood and trap a reader in the deepest recesses of a character's psyche. The title story (its odd name comes from the volume of the encyclopedia her character uses in venting his spleen at published authors whose work suffers from a lack of precision) draws us into the mind of a lonely man whose inability to please his mother makes him vulnerable to self destruction. "The Wink" and "Walter's Leg," two stories about revenge, demonstrate that it is indeed a meal best eaten cold. "The Professional" is a small gem with an ironic twist, notable for its acute insights into social class and status in England. In these and other pieces in this collection, Rendell's powers of invention and acute psychological insight remind one of the chilling tales she writes as Barbara Vine. But the best is saved for last, "High Mysterious Union," a tale that's like the weather in Rendell's typical English landscape: sunny at the start but increasingly dark and threatening as the plot thickens. A translator rents a cottage in a village that seems like Lake Wobegon. Everyone is beautiful, strong, and kind, especially the women, who seduce the newcomer with their charms and then abandon him when he fails to see the rightness of their unique, bizarre ways. He gets away with his life, but it will take days before he (and his creator) give you back your own. --Jane AdamsFrom the Publisher:
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