2009: 146. King Solomon’s Carpet

“A great many things that other people did all the time she had never done.”

King Solomon’s Carpet, Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine)

           Probably the worst of the Rendell as Vine’s I’ve read.  Again, the novel is less a classic mystery than a psychological thriller, but this time the pieces don’t really add up to enough.  The story centers on a former school owned by a train-obsessed young man, who upon inheriting it from his mother, decides to turn it into a boarding home in order to fund his trips around the world to visit different metro systems.  The boarders drift in an out - his cousin and her half wild children, the young woman who has left her husband and baby to pursue her dreams of being a musician, the busker who falls obsessively in love with her, and, later, the strange man with mysterious plans who (like many of the characters), is obsessed by the London Underground.  All the stories sort of drift together at the end to a dramatic conclusion, but the ending both feels unearned and unfinished.  Usually with this kind of story the pieces tie into a bow, and the reader is pleased with how all the puzzle pieces make a whole (indeed, Rendell has written a number of novels in exactly this vein).  Here we have have half-formed characters coming together in a telegraphed fashion, culminating in an ending that was both expected, and in certain critical ways unexplained.  A disappointment. 


Date/Place Completed: December  2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017