2010: 18. The Birthday Present

“Thirty-three is the age we shall all be when we meet in heaven because Christ was thirty-three when he died.”

The Birthday Present, Barbara Vine

      I quite enjoyed this Barbara Vine novel, though it seemed more like some of her Ruth Rendell writing (i.e. a straight up mystery, though told from varying perspectives) than her best most psychologically complex Vine novels.  Still, the story was intriguing, and the characters believable (even if not all people you would particularly like to know).  The story concerns a young handsome single member of Parliament, a rising star in the Tory party at the time when the Tories were still in power.  He gets involved with a young married woman and their affair quickly turns to exploring their more kinky side.  All seems is going along swimmingly until our MP comes up with a particularly spicy adventure that goes terribly astray.  The novel continues as our various narrators (the MP’s brother-in-law, the mistress’s “best friend”) unfold how a simple accident goes off the rails, and, as usual, how the cover up is so much worse that than the crime.  Delicious - especially in the character of the mistress’s “friend” as nasty and delusional a piece of work as you’ll see on the page (but oh too real seeming - and, actually, such a Rendellian character that she is probably the reason this screams Rendell and not Vine to me).  

Date/Place Completed: March 2010, coming back on the train from oral argument in New York

Categories: Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017