22 February 2011

Ruth Rendell: Getting Started

This morning's release of eight of the best 'Barbara Vine' novels as U.S. ebooks is all the reminder I need that I have still not begun to blog about Ruth Rendell, my favorite living crime writer. People usually take one of two or three well-established approaches to Rendell (born in 1930, sits in the House of Lords, three strands or series of novels...)--but you don't 'want to' be reading about Ruth Rendell, you 'want to' be reading Ruth Rendell, or, ideally, reading Barbara Vine. In the 1980s, at the height of her writerly powers, the massively prolific Rendell began writing the occasional novel under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. The Vines 'push the envelope' more reliably than the (other) Rendells (whether we mean the Wexford series Rendells or the non-series Highsmithian ones). If you've never read Rendell, or if you (like me, first in the 1980s and then in the 1990s) have dipped a toe in but not been convinced of her mastery, give her a chance, starting with the first Vine novel, A Dark-Adapted Eye. More to come.

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