Sorry not to have updated for a few days. I’m in the middle of two thick books – one on Arctic exploration, one on the life of Beatrix Potter – and I was waiting to finish one or the other before I wrote anything. Instead, I think I’ll try to keep things fresh on a more regular basis, and perhaps do some retroactive reviews from my past lists as I read through some of my heftier works.
In the mean time, I’ll start with one I finished about a week ago: The Rottweiler, by Ruth Rendell. I was eager to start this one after enjoying The Killing Doll so much, and indeed, this was excellent: well-written, tense, not a whodunit but a whydunit, and a masterful intersection of interesting, realistic characters, bouncing off one another as people do, until this particular group’s chance encounters create the explosive finish.
The Rottweiler tells the story of a serial murderer of women (aren’t they all? Or at least mostly) who lives a quiet, elegant existence in a London flat and asks himself the question: why do I do it? What compels someone like me to kill? Meanwhile, his housemates live their own lives, and come closer and closer to the murderer’s truth. The story is a cautionary tale about our own unrecognized isolation, varying in degree but not in substance.
One thing I notice about Rendell’s books – and this is not a flaw, this is just an observation – is that her books are so acutely observed that there comes a point where I want to put the book down and walk away. I can’t bear the tension, or the pity for the victim; I squirm. I think that’s why I put down The Killing Doll earlier, and only came back to it after about a month of other things, and I was tempted to do the same with The Rottweiler. I’m glad I pushed through my discomfort, but Rendell is not an author whose books I could read one after another, like eating potato chips. They require too much investment for that. Potboilers they are not, despite her prolific output. More to be enjoyed one at a time, with a breather in between. Anyone have any recommendations for which of hers I should tackle next?