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Ruth Rendell Biography

(1930– ), From Doom with Death, Some Die and Some Lie, Shake Hands for Ever

crime novels detective sexual

British crime writer, born in London; she worked briefly for an Essex newspaper. With From Doom with Death (1964) she began a long series of police novels set in the mid-Sussex town of Kingsmarkham, with Detective Chief Inspector Wexford as their central character. Though these have similarities in method with the classical pre-war detective story, they differ from it in their subjects, which include, for example, transvestism and sexual obsession and frustration. Among the best are Some Die and Some Lie (1973), Shake Hands for Ever (1975), A Sleeping Life (1978), and The Speaker of Mandarin (1983). More interesting and more unusual are her other novels, which have led critics to compare her work with that of Patricia Highsmith. These are usually studies of abnormal psychology—often sexual perversion—leading to violence and crime, such as A Demon in My View (1976), A Judgement in Stone (1977), The Killing Doll (1984), The Tree of Hands (1984), and Crocodile Bird (1993). Under the name of Barbara Vine she has also written a number of novels in which the interest is again psychological, although crime is usually less in evidence (A Dark-Adapted Eye, 1986; A Fatal Inversion, 1987; The House of Stairs, 1988; Gallowglass, 1990). Rendell edited The Reason Why: An Anthology of the Murderous Mind (1995).

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