2016: 20. Dark Corners

“For many years Wilfred Mann collected samples of alternative medicines, homeopathic remedies, and herbal pills.”

Dark Corner, Ruth Rendell

SOB. This is the last book by the amazing Ruth Rendell, who sadly died last year. Obviously I love her work, particularly when she wrote as Barbara Vine, and she will be sorely missed by me.  I have a few I haven’t read yet (that link above goes to my Ruth Rendell project), but once I’m done I’m sad to know that there are no more delicious psychopaths, ordinary people slipping into crime, and mysteries with deep family secrets coming from her razor sharp pen.  A true mystery legend.

This particular book has many of the hallmarks of Rendell-ism - a young man who makes a mistake that will come to haunt him, another man determined to get what he wants, a young woman living her life with no regards for others.  And, of course, murder, though in someways it feels like an after thought.  Indeed, I almost wonder if Rendell hadn’t quite finished this one before it went to press - though the prose is exquisite as ever, and the characters are quite good, some plot threads seemed to disappear, or never get sewn up properly, though we can guess the answer.  Rendell, though subtle, was usually a bit more obvious about her mysteries.* The gist of the mystery is this - Carl Martin has inherited a house from his father but, being cash poor, decides to rent it out.  His tenant, Dermot McKinnen, turns out to be a bit more than he bargained for, and when Carl makes the mistake of selling some pills that were left over in his father’s medicine cabinet, things start very quickly to go awry…

It’s entertaining, for sure.  But if you aren’t a Rendell fan already, I would maybe suggest you start with something else.  My favorites are the Vines - A Dark Adapted Eye, The Chimney Sweeper’s Son, Asta’s Book, but the Wexfords (her detective series) are good too, and she has some great stand-alones under her own name. If you are somehow a mystery fan who reads this blog but hasn’t tried Rendell, I cannot encourage you enough to give her a try! And if you like her already, her last book is worth the read.

Category: Ruth Rendell Project


*(SPOILER - what I am talking about is Lizzie’s kidnapping. Presumably, they meant to kidnap the wealthy Elizabeth instead, but who did it? That guy she had the one date with? And how does that tie to Carl’s downfall? Rendell is usually neater with her plots).

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017