Fiction Rendell, Ruth Thirteen Steps Down

ISBN 13: 9780091799755

Thirteen Steps Down

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9780091799755: Thirteen Steps Down

A classic Rendellian loner, Mix Cellini is superstitious about the number 13. Living in a decaying house in Notting Hill, Mix is obsessed with 10 Rillington Place, where the notorious Christie committed a series of foul murders. He is also infatuated with a beautiful model who lives nearby - a woman who would not look at him twice. Mix's landlady, Gwendolen Chawcer is equally reclusive - living her life through her library of books. Both landlady and lodger inhabit weird worlds of their own. But when reality intrudes into Mix's life, a long pent-up violence explodes.

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Review:

Like several of Ruth Rendell's other novels of suspense, Thirteen Steps Down is a book about a couple of murders waiting to happen. Mix Cellini is a half-educated mechanic specializing in exercise machines, who indulges himself in alcohol, self-medication, celebrity-stalking and an obsession with Christie, the Rillington Place murderer. What dooms Cellini, and his victims, is not so much any active principle of evil, as selfishness and a tendency to drift into things that does the job almost as efficiently.

The house where he rents an apartment is a wonderful example of the Bad Place; his eighty-something landlady Gwendolyn is another person who drifts, in her case into nostalgia and slow decay. Mix is a deeply modern monster, but Gwendolyn is one of the proofs that this is not just a bitch at modernity; Mix's potential victim, supermodel Nerissa, is charming, smart and blessed. There are a few too many coincidences here for Thirteen Steps Down to quite make it on to the list of great Rendell--her best books are more tightly constructed--but it is certainly a book which her admirers will want.--Roz Kaveney

Review:

"Ruth Rendell is, unequivocally, the most brilliant mystery novelist of our time. "--Patricia Cornwell "From the Hardcover edition.

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