2009: 47. The Crocodile Bird

“The world began to fall apart at nine in the evening.”

The Crocodile Bird, Ruth Rendell

Liza lives alone with her mother, and has done so her entire life, totally isolated from the outside world, until the day when she is seventeen and her mother is caught for a murder that she has committed to protect their idyll - at it was not their first.  Liza is our narrator, slowly telling us (through her tales to the boyfriend she meets after she flees her mother’s home) of her strange childhood, and her even stranger mother...

This is a creepy but effective novel - Rendell is very good at writing Liza, who is bright, but extremely naive - such that she is totally familiar with great literature and knows almost nothing of the modern world.  Her mother is a great character too - so committed to the Eden she’s created (and her name, big surprise is Eve), that she’ll do horrible things to protect it - and the ending manages to both explain what has happened and to seem realistic (or as realistic as a murder novel can be).  I really enjoyed The Crocodile Bird.  Rendell is particularly skilled at writing a mystery novel where you know who committed the murder, and the question becomes why and how they did it, and this is a classic example of that.

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

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017