January 16th, 2010


January Books 8) Thirteen Steps Down, by Ruth Rendell

I had never particularly aspired to read Ruth Rendell, but acquired this by mistake from a BookMoocher who had meant to send me an Ian Rankin. It is a gripping and somewhat grim read, of a lonely old woman and her obsessive lodger; he kills his Bosnian girlfriend, and hides her body under the floorboards. It's a crime novel rather than a mystery novel, since we know what the murderer has done and why he has done it all the way through; the police barely feature in the story. The other main character in the book apart from the murderer and his landlady is the city of London in the Noughties; socially and ethnically mixed, but on edge and easily fractured. There are a lot of memorable minor characters as well - the model who the killer is obsessed with, the landlady's long lost love, the fortune-teller who the victim worked for, even the Iraqi refugee who emerges rather abruptly in the final pages. If Rendell's other books are this good I shall start looking out for them.

Top LibraryThing Unsuggestion: rather surprisingly, Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, followed by a whole lot of Pratchett, Gaiman and Robert Jordan. Shows a sharp divide between crime writing fans and sf fans - certainly the latter would have no reason not to enjoy this, and I'd have rated Smoke and Mirrors as one of Gaiman's more accessible books for the reader who doesn't usually buy sf. Also shows that LibraryThing haven't updated the Unsuggestion database since before I accidentally acquired this book.

'Completist' authors poll

LibraryThing lists these authors as having the most 'completist' fans, ie that those who have one book by the author are likely to have a lot more. (I'm a bit surprised not to see Lois McMaster Bujold here, or more classic crime writers.) Not all of them are in fact single authors, but we live in an imperfect world.

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