From crime fiction’s reigning queen comes a diabolically intricate tale that weaves together the lives of very different people in the vibrant part of London known as Portobello.
Fifty-year-old Eugene Wren inherited from his father an art gallery near an arcade that now sells cashmere, handmade soaps, and children’s clothing. But he decided to move to a more upmarket site. Eugene was, perhaps, too secretive for his own good. He also had an addictive personality. But he had cut back radically on his alcohol consumption, and had given up cigarettes. Which was just as well, considering he was dating a doctor. For all his good intentions, though, there was something he didn’t want her to know.
One day, Eugene comes across an envelope containing a sum of money. Rather than report the matter to the police, he writes a note and sticks it up on a lamppost near his house. This note would link a number of very different people–each with their own obsessions, problems, dreams, and despairs. And through it all the hectic life of Portobello bustles on.
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On a shopping trip, Eugene Wren came across an envelope containing money. Rather than report the matter to the police, he wrote a note and stuck it up on lamppost near his house: found in Chepstow Villas, a sum of money between 80 and 160 pounds. Anyone who has lost such a sum should apply to the phone number below.Review:
As well as Ruth Rendell’s customary expertise with the narrative demands of crime fiction, Portobello provides a colourful and eccentric portrait of one of the most distinctive areas of the capital, the Portobello district of West London. To both Londoners and visitors, the areas is lively and exciting, but there is a level of criminality here which Rendell handles as adroitly as ever. The book is something of departure for the author, less plot-led than customarily.
Eugene Wrenn, who lives modestly despite his wealth, has inherited an art gallery from his father. But Eugene moves to a more upmarket location in Kensington Church Street. He is 50, but looks older than his age, and is plagued by an addictive personality (currently, he finds himself unable to give up an addiction to low-calorie sweets). Despite this, he has a reasonably happy relationship with a GP, Ella, who finds herself able to put up with these quirks -- at least, those she knows about. Eugene discovers an envelope containing money, which he picks up in the street. But instead of doing the logical thing and taking it to the police, he sticks a note on a lamppost near his house, asking whoever lost it to claim the money (but withholding information only known to the real owner) The first to apply is a small-time criminal, Lance (recently thrown out of his house for domestic violence), who is thinking of casing the house of his benefactor -- even if he is initially unable to get the money. But the genuine owner of the money is the disturbed Joel, who lives in a self-induced darkness and shares his life with a phantom companion.
Utilising this disparate and eccentric cast of characters, Rendell forges a discursive but compelling novel that (as always with her work) keeps us reading inexorably. Some may find the characterisation broader than they are used to with Rendell, but this is still seductive fare. --Barry Forshaw
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Book Description Hutchinson Radius, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 91925851