Ruth Rendell probes behind the patterns of everyday life to pinpoint the deceptions and guilty secrets of human beings.
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The technique of using a different narrator for each of these stories divides them and adds individuality. S.G.B. (c)AudioFile, Portland, MaineFrom Library Journal:
In her longer fiction, Rendell (A Guilty Thing Surprised, Audio Reviews, LJ 7/95) is a master of the two most important elements in mystery writing: intricate plotting, as in her Inspector Wexford tales, and psychological insight, as in the novels she writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. In most of her shorter fiction, however, she ignores her strengths for trick endings and easy ironies. Both of these weaknesses are on display in this collection through such stories as "Shreds and Slivers," which is about poison mushrooms, and "Clothes," which tells of a compulsive shopper. The best of the 11 tales are the longer examples: the title piece, in which Wexford solves a murder growing out of a complex family entanglement; "In All Honesty," in which an old woman dies under mysterious circumstances; and "The Strawberry Tree," a fascinating, Jamesian examination of obsession with the past. Nigel Anthony does best with the first-person narratives, creating, for instance, a convincing, sympathetic female character for "The Strawberry Tree," a story so good it makes the recording a worthwhile purchase. For large collections or wherever Rendell has an audience.
Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr., New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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