Ruth Rendell

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Books

Associate Agent : Christian Ogunbanjo

Books

Since her first novel FROM DOON WITH DEATH, published in 1964, Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A DEMON IN MY VIEW, and the Arts Council National Book Award, genre fiction, for LAKE OF DARKNESS in 1980. In 1985 Ruth Rendell received the Silver Dagger for THE TREE OF HANDS, and in 1987, writing as Barbara Vine, won her third Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America for A DARK ADAPTED-EYE. She won the Gold Dagger for LIVE FLESH in 1986, for KING SOLOMON'S CARPET in 1991 and, as Barbara Vine, a Gold Dagger in 1987 for A FATAL INVERSION. Ruth Rendell won the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990, and in 1991 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE, and in 1997 was made a Life Peer. Her books have been translated into twenty five languages and are also published to great acclaim in the United States. Ruth passed away on 2nd May 2015. She is survived by her son and two grandsons.

 

 

 

Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes
2014

Hutchinson

The woman vicar of St Peter's Church may not be popular, but it still comes as a profound shock when she is found strangled in her vicarage. Inspector Wexford is retired, but when asked to assist he readily agrees. What Wexford does not know is that the killer is far closer than he, or any one else, thinks.

2014

Hutchinson

When the bones of two severed hands are discovered in a box, an investigation into a long buried crime of passion begins. And a group of friends, who played together as children, begin to question their past.

2013

Viking

What sort of betrayal would drive a brother and sister apart?

When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother's house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. It seems the obvious thing to do: they've always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There's one thing they've forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? When Andrew's partner James moves in, it alters the balance - with almost fatal consequences.

Barbara Vine's is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell, and The Child's Child is the first book she has published under that name since The Birthday Present in 2008. It's an intriguing examination of betrayal in families, and of those two once-unmentionable subjects, illegitimacy and homosexuality.

2012

Hutchinson

'Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria. So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way. Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour.'

Dex works as a gardener for Dr Jefferson at his home on Hexam Place in Pimlico: an exclusive street of white-painted stucco Georgian houses inhabited by the rich, and serviced by the not so rich. The hired help, a motley assortment of au pairs, drivers and cleaners, decide to form the St Zita Society (Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants) as an excuse to meet at the local pub and air their grievances.

When Dex is invited to attend one of these meetings, the others find that he is a strange man, seemingly ill at ease with human beings. These first impressions are compounded when they discover he has recently been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated for attempting to kill his own mother. Dex's most meaningful relationship seems to be with his mobile phone service provider, Peach, and he interprets the text notifications and messages he receives from the company as a reassuring sign that there is some kind of god who will protect him. And give him instructions about ridding the world of evil spirits . . .

Accidental death and pathological madness cohabit above and below stairs in Hexam Place.

2011

HUTCHINSON

'Don't forget', Wexford said, 'I've lived in a world where the improbable happens all the time'. However, the impossible has happened. Chief Inspector Reg Wexford has retired. He and his wife, Dora, now divide their time between Kingsmarkham and a coachhouse in Hampstead, belonging to their actress daughter, Sheila. Wexford takes great pleasure in his books, but, for all the benefits of a more relaxed lifestyle, he misses being the law. But a chance meeting in a London street, with someone he had known briefly as a very young police constable, changes everything.

2010

HUTCHINSON

A housewarming party for a new flat is usually a pleasurable experience, but the one thrown by the unworldly Stuart Font is to have unwanted consequences. Stuart invites everyone in his building to the bash, even the caretaker and his wife – people, Stuart finds, it is hard to warm to. The party turns out to be a memorable one for everyone involved – but for all the wrong reasons. The eponymous ‘Tigerlliy’ is an attractive young Asian women who is one of Stuart’s nearest neighbours (he was the one who gave her the exotic sobriquet); she does not however, conform to the stereotypical image of the powerless, vulnerable Asian woman. Her influence over those around her is to prove dark and all-enveloping, and Stuart’s parents will have reason to be concerned -- very concerned – for their hapless son.

2009

HUTCHINSON

Wexford had almost made up his mind that he would never again set eyes on Eric Targo’s short, muscular figure. And yet there he was, back in Kingsmarkham, still with that cocky, strutting walk.
Years earlier, when Wexford was a young police officer, a woman called Elsie Carroll had been found strangled in her bedroom. Although many still had their suspicions that her husband was guilty, no one was convicted.
Another woman was strangled shortly afterwards, and every personal and professional instinct told Wexford that the killer was still at large. And it was Eric Targo. A psychopath who would kill again…

2008

PENGUIN

Set amidst an age of IRA bombings, the first Gulf War, and sleazy politics, The Birthday Present is the gripping story of a fall from grace, and of a man who carries within him all the hypocrisy, greed and self-obsession of a troubled era.

2008

Hutchinson

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.

2007

HUTCHINSON

A guilt-haunted fantasy author and his wives help Wexford solve the puzzle of two mean`s bodies, mysteriously dead and hard to identify, while elsewhere a little African girl`s tragedy is enacted.

2006

HUTCHINSON

Weeks went by when Ismay never thought of it at all. Then something would bring it back or it would return in a dream. The dream began in the same way.
She and her mother would be climbing the stairs, following Heather's lead through the bedroom to what was on the other side, not a bathroom in the dream but a chamber floored and walled in marble. In the middle of it was a glassy lake. The white thing in the water floated towards her, its face submerged, and her mother said, absurdly, "Don't look!"'
The dead man was Ismay's stepfather, Guy. Now, nine years on, she and her sister, Heather, still lived in the same house in Clapham. But it had been divided into two self-contained flats. Their mother lived upstairs with her sister, Pamela. And the bathroom, where Guy had drowned, had been demolished.
Ismay worked in public relations, and Heather in catering. They got on well. They always had. They never discussed the changes to the house, still less what had happened that August day...
But even lives as private as these, where secrets hang in the air like dust, intertwine with other worlds and other individuals. And, with painful inevitability, the truth will emerge.

2006

HUTCHINSON

Humiliated and scared, by a total stranger, Polly does what she always does. She steals something. But she never could have imagined that her desire for revenge would have such terrifying results.

2005

HUTCHINSON

A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while.... It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again. What will happen to the child? The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora. One particular member of the local press is gunning for the Chief Inspector, distrinctly unimpressed with what he regards as old-fashioned police methods. But Wexford, with his old friend and partner, Mike Murden, along with two new recruits to the Kingsmarkham team, pursue their inquiries with a diligence and humanity that makes Ruth Rendell`s detective stories enthralling, exciting and very touching.

2005

PENGUIN

Kerstin Kvist enters crumbling Lydstep Old Hall to live with the Cosways and to act as nurse to John: a grown man fed drugs by his family to control his lunatic episodes. But John's strangeness is grotesquely mirrored in that of his four sisters who roam the dark, mazy Essex country house under the strict gaze of eighty-year-old Mrs Cosway.
Despite being treated as an outsider, Kerstin is nevertheless determined to help John. But she soon discovers that there are others in the family who are equally as determined that John remain isolated, for sinister reasons of their own ...

2004

HUTCHINSON

Mix Cellini (which he pronounces with an `S` rather than a `C`) is superstitious about the number thirteen and has always felt dogged by ill-luck. In St Blaise House where he lives, there are thirteen steps down to the landing below his rooms, which he keeps spick and span in marked contract to the rest of the place. His landlady, Gwendolen Chawcer, was born there, and lives her life almost exclusively through her library, blind to the neglect and decay around her. The Notting Hill neighbourhood has changed radically over the last fifty years, and 10 Rillington Place, where the notorious John Christie committed a series of foul murders, has been torn down. Mix is obsessed with the life of Christie and his small library is composed entirely of books on the subject. He has also developed a passion for a beautiful model who lives nearby - a woman who would not look at him twice. Both landlady and lodger inhabit weird worlds of their own. But when reality intrudes into Mix`s life, a long pent-up violence explodes.

2003

HUTCHINSON

The rottweiler, whose bite is a garotte, is one of the Star Street people, men and women, young and old - but which one, and above all, why?

2002

HUTCHINSON

A woman phoned to say she and her husband went to Paris for the weekend, leaving their children with a - well, teen-sitter, I suppose, got back last night to find the lot gone and naturally she assumes they've all drowned.' There hadn't been anything like this kind of rain in living memory. The River Brede had burst its banks, and not a single house in the valley had escaped flooding. Even where Wexford lived, higher up in Kingsmarkham, the waters had nearly reached the mulberry tree in his once immaculate garden. The Subaqua Task Force could find no trace of Giles and Sophie Dade, let alone the woman who was keeping them company, Joanna Troy. But Mrs Dade was convinced her children were dead. This was an investigation which would call into question many of Wexford's assumptions about the way people behaved, including his own family ...

2002

PENGUIN

The current Lord Nanther, experiencing the reform of the House of Lords, embarks on a biography of his great-grandfather, the first Lord Nanther, favoured physician to Queen Victoria, expert on blood diseases and particularly the royal disease of haemophilia. What he uncovers begins to horrify him as he realizes that Nanther died a guilty man - carrying a horrific secret to the grave.

2001

HUTCHINSON

Jock Lewis died in the Paddington train crash. Or did he? His fiancée Minty is coming to terms with both his loss and the loss of all her savings, which Jock vanished with. And there is Zilla, who had been married to a man called Jerry Leach. She also received a letter from the railway company telling her that her husband is dead. Other women, too, who do not know each other, have all had relationships with a dark-haired man who disappears from their lives. And when Jock's ghost reappears to Minty at her home and at her work, she begins to carry a knife... but if she stabs him, will he bleed?

2000

PENGUIN

Blamed by her parents for the tragic death of a friend, Clodagh has been banished from their home in the countryside to a dingy basement flat in the city. Her life is transformed when she meets the inhabitants on the top floor of 15 Russia Road. An exotic range of young people who explore a London of roofs, eaves and ledges, thrilling in the freedom and danger. Clodagh, haunted still by the accident, finds that running the roofs brings her back to life, but it seems that tragedy and misfortune may not be done with her yet.

2000

HUTCHINSON

The eponymous story is volume eight of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a tome used by Ambrose Ribbon, a lonely, obsessive who spends his life writing scathing letters to authors and publishers about even the minutest copy editing mistakes. Until recently he shared his house with his domineering mother and since her death he has kept her room exactly as she had left it. However, Ribbon finds out he has bitten off more than he can chew after he pens a vitriolic missive to a writer of occult horror fiction. A second novella and further nine short stories deal with further macabre, mysterious themes. Highly recommended.

1999

HUTCHINSON

Back in the familiar Sussex town of Kingsmarkham, Rendell's dogged sleuth Wexford is investigating the strange abductions of two young girls: Rachel, a bright middle-class student, and Lizzie, a mentally disabled 16-year-old living with her unsympathetic parents on a grim council estate. When both girls return home, apparently unharmed, Wexford is faced with a curious mystery: what really happened to them?

1998

PENGUIN

When successful author Gerald Candless dies of a sudden heart attack, his eldest, adoring daughter Sarah embarks on a memoir of him and soon discovers that her perfect father was not all he appeared to be. That, in fact, he wasn't Gerald Candless at all. But then, who was he? And what terrible secret had driven him to live a lie for all those years?

1998

HUTCHINSON

In Ruth Rendell's dark and contemporary universe, innocent dreams can turn to the most terrible nightmares. Teddy Brex emerges from a loveless, isolated childhood as a handsome but autistic young man. Francine Hill, traumatized by the murder of her mother, grows into a beautiful young woman who must endure the over-protectiveness of an increasingly obsessive stepmother.

1997

HUTCHINSON

A novel featuring Chief Inspector Wexford, whose wife allies herself to a protest movement when a by-pass is planned for Kingsmarkham, but the plot thickens when the lifeless body of a young woman is discovered, and people go missing, including his wife.

1996

WEIDENFELD

Babysnatching is one thing, but babyswapping? Inspector Wexford had not previously encountered the phenomenon of one ginger-haired child being swapped for another of the opposite sex, but the novelty soon wore off to reveal the crime's far more sinister characteristics.

1996

HUTCHINSON

Mary Jago had donated bone-marrow to save the life of someone she didn't know. This generous act led to her break-up with Alistair, for whom it was as if her beauty had been plundered. However, the man whose life she had saved would change Mary's life in a way she could never have imagined.

1995

PENGUIN

Jenny's marriage is loveless, and she is having an affair. She works at an old people's home, where she is especially fond of Stella, a woman dying of cancer - whose own secrets parallel Jenny's - with the difference that she may have been involved in murdering her lover's husband.

1995

HUTCHINSON

This collection of long and short stories probes the patterns of everyday life to pinpoint the frailties, the desires of deception, and the guilty secrets of human beings. It ends with "The Strawberry Tree", a novella-length tale of lost innocence set on the island of Majorca.

1994

HUTCHINSON

A Wexford mystery. Only 18 black people live in Kingsmarkham. One is Wexford's new doctor, whose daughter disappears. Chief Inspector Wexford takes more than a mere professional interest in the case, testing not only his powers of deduction, but his beliefs and prejudices about racial equality.

1993

HUTCHINSON

When her mother, Eve, tells Liza that she must leave their remote home, the gatehouse of a country mansion, Liza is terrified. Although seventeen years of age, she has never been on a bus or a train, has never played with a child of her own age. She has almost no knowledge of a world described by her mother as evil and destructive. Their strange, enclosed life together is over because Eve has killed a man. And he is not the first. With -100 in cash, Liza is cast aside. However, she is not alone. There is one particular secret she has kept from her mother - her love affair with a young man who worked in the big house. With him, gradually Liza learns about the world, about herself, and must come to terms with the possibility that the murderous violence of her mother may be present in her.

1992

HUTCHINSON

A bank job goes wrong and a Kingsmarkham detective sergeant is killed. Months later, the Flory family are slaughtered at home by an unknown assassin. The cases seem unrelated. But Chief Inspector Wexford is not so sure. By the author of "The Copper Peacock" and "The Bridesmaid".

1991

HUTCHINSON

A collection of crime stories, including one which features Chief Inspector Reg Wexford. The title story concerns a hideous bookmark given to a writer by his attractive cleaning lady. If only she had given herself, instead of the copper peacock, she might have lived.

1990

HUTCHINSON

The dark, good-looking Guy is from a council flat. Leonora has a mews house in Holland Park, and her mother doesn't care for Guy - or the way he makes his money. His obsession with Leonora increases, even after they have grown apart, until eventually it creates in him a murderous madness.

1989

HUTCHINSON

Philip Wardman had more than just the ordinary squeamishness where death was concerned. Yet he could hardly avoid the suspicious disappearance of his sister's friend Rebecca Neave, especially when everyone was ascribing the cause to murder. Philip's feminine ideal is the statue of the Roman goddess Flora in his mother's garden. His marble Flora doesn't fade, doesn't alter, doesn't die. But then he meets Senta Pelham, a beautiful, sensual, childlike actress who flagrantly disdains the morals of society and passionately desires the elusive Philip.

1988

HUTCHINSON

A Reg Wexford mystery. In a desolate subterranean car park, Detective Chief Inspector Wexford has been too preoccupied to notice anything out of the ordinary - just a teenage girl in a red car, driving rather too fast. Only later does he learn of the car park victim, murdered with a length of wire.

1987

HUTCHINSON

In a college town two schoolgirls live with their widowed father Luke, a gentle well-educated man, meticulous and orderly. Elvira and Spinny are watchful however for Luke plans to remarry and has chosen Mary. The threat to the girls world is removed, however, when Mary falls to her death.

1987

HUTCHINSON

Safe houses and secret message drops, double crosses and defections - it sounds like the stuff of sophisticated espionage, but the agents are only schoolboys engaged in harmless play. But John Creevey doesn't know this. To him, the messages he decodes with painstaking care are the communications of dangerous and evil men, and as he comes face to face with the fact of his beloved wife Jennifer's defection, he begins to see a way to get back at the man she left him for. And soon the schoolboys are playing more than just a game.

1986

HUTCHINSON

After ten years in prison for shooting - and permanently crippling - a young policeman, Victor Jenner is released to a strange new world and told to make a new life for himself. It's hard to fill in the days, but at least there's one blessing - he was never convicted for all those rapes he committed. Then Victor meets David, the policeman he shot, and David's beautiful girlfriend, Clare. And suddenly Victor's new life is starting to look an awful lot like the old one.

Adapted and directed for film by Pedro Almodovar

Gold Dagger 1986

1985

HUTCHINSON

An Inspector Wexford mystery. He thought he was merely doing a neighbourly good deed when he agreed to talk to Joy Williams about her missing husband, and certainly didn't expect to be investigating a most unusual homicide.

THE NEW GIRLFRIEND

1985

HUTCHINSON

Collection of short stories.

1984

HUTCHINSON

The winter before he was sixteen, Pup sold his soul to the devil. He wasn't quite sure what he was going to get in exchange. For the time being, all he asked for was to be happy, and to grow a bit taller. Even though she was older than Pup, Dolly was always in awe of her brother. More and more, she wanted to believe that he had occult powers and could do anything. Magic could remove the birthmark from her face and make her normal. Magic could kill their wicked stepmother, Myra. Pup laughs when Dolly shows him an effigy of Myra: a rag doll, about fifteen inches high, with knitted nylon skin and rust-coloured wool hair. Dolly sticks it full of pins. Myra dies. With dazzling virtuosity Ruth Rendell explores a haunted world of obsession, delusions and murderous fantasy.

1984

HUTCHINSON

Once, when Benet was about fourteen, she and her mother had been alone in a train carriage and Mopsa had tried to stab her with a carving knife. It was some time since Benet had seen her mad mother. So when Mopsa arrived at the airport, looking drab and colourless in a dowdy grey suit, Benet tried not to hate her. But the tragic death of a child begins a chain of deception, kidnap and murder. Domestic dramas exploding into deaths and murders ...threads are drawn tightly together in a lethal last pattern.

Silver Dagger 1985

1983

HUTCHINSON

A crime thriller, featuring the detective work of Chief Inspector Wexford, who finds himself having to solve a mystery that begins on a trip to China.

1982

HUTCHINSON

The bleak expanse of Vangmoor was a dark, forbidding place. One victim had been found there, blonde, her face disfigured, her head shorn close to the scalp - killed without motive or mercy. Then a second woman went missing on the moor, and a sense of utter dread gripped the fifty local men who searched for her. Someone watched them in that treacherous place. Was he a killer? Or was he merely angry that a killer had usurped him? For he, and only he, was the Master of the Moor.

1980

HUTCHINSON

Martin Urban wins the pools and decides to help those less fortunate. Finn also comes into money and wants to help people - but only if the price is right. The good intentions of the one become fatally entangled with the macabre madness of the other.

Non-Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes
1988

HUTCHINSON

This illustrated text focuses on the landscape and people of Suffolk, relating the history and style of the county and the author's unique relationship with it. Unusual aspects, from haunted priories to the devastation wreaked by a recent hurricane, are viewed from a personal perspective. Ruth Rendell is the author of such crime thrillers as "From Doon with Death", "Talking to Strange Men" and "A Fatal Inversion". This is her first work of non-fiction.

1995

Cape

Described as a psychological literary anthology, this is a collection of writings by a number of authors on the subject of murder, and what prompts men and women to commit it. The collection has been chosen and introduced by the crime-writer Ruth Rendell, and endeavours to see into the mind of murderers, their thoughts and dreams, their murderous acts and their remorse, in fiction and in fact. The anthology draws on the works of celebrated writers, including Shakespeare, Sophocles, Tolstoy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Edgar Allan Poe, John Banville, P.D. James, Patricia Highsmith, Sigmund Freud, Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, Norman Mailer, Rachel de Quieroz and Melanie Klein.

1989

Chatto

This is an argument for decentralization - pointing out that too much power is centred on Whitehall and underlining the social breakdown this causes in rural areas of the UK. Rendell and Ward argue that regional and local government throughout Britain would restore power to the people who are now ruled by political processes governing levels of housing, education and social services - factors which affect the essential qualities of people's lives. They use the specific example of Polstead - their local town - where a village primary school has recently been closed down (against the wishes of the community) and where housing is unavailable for local first time buyers. They propose a radical network of local government based on the Swiss model.