Monday, November 19, 2012
Back to a Master
I've read a lot of books by Ruth Rendell. And by Rendell writing as Barbara Vine. But it had been a few years since I last read one of her books. No particular reason - I just hadn't. One good thing, though, about a true master, especially one as prolific as she is - you know that writer is always there, ever great, and when you feel so inclined again, you'll return to them. That happened very recently when I picked up a copy of THE VAULT after browsing in a store. What first caught my eye is that the book is a sequel to A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES, one of her creepiest and strongest works. Interesting, because A SORE FOR SORE EYES is a non-Inspector Wexford Rendell novel, but THE VAULT features Wexford as the central character. While SORE EYES, like most most non-Wexfords, focuses on the abnormal psychology of its criminal protagonist, Teddy Brex, THE VAULT unfolds through the balanced perception of its detective. It's Rendell in full procedural mode, and typically nuanced, lovely Rendell it is. What a pleasure to come back to her elegant prose and quiet humor and of course her mastery with plotting, pacing, and characters. How old is she now? Eighty two? She still puts out a book or two every year. I can only be glad that after reading twenty or so of her books, there are another fifty or so to read.