Ruth Rendell died today. She was pretty old. She was a great writer and, more importantly, a unique one.
I first found out about her about 10 or 12 years ago when some friends of mine changed flats and left me a couple of boxes of books (Thanks, Becky and Steve!) There were a couple of hers in there. I read the blurbs on the jackets and thought “Oh, good, some more detective novels.”
I quite like the genre. From Arthur Conan-Doyle to Agatha Christie to Raymond Chandler, some of the writers are a bit grittier than others, but the formula is pretty much the same, and they are fun to read because it’s not just a book, it’s also a puzzle. I love trying to guess the villain before the denouement, and I manage it about 50% of the time.
Well, Ruth Rendell was not that kind of a writer. If she ever met Agatha Christie, I imagine she’d have just slapped the shit out of her.
Ruth Rendell started in the mind of the murderer and worked out. She told you why they killed and what made them the way they are. She wrote so many different versions of fucked up childhoods, extremely plausible fucked up childhoods, that it almost makes you despair for the human race.
Because every twisted, messed up character she wrote was totally believable.
RIP Ruth Rendell. You were one of a kind.