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Live Flesh

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  991 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
As their worlds collide, an ex-con and his victim struggle to make sense of their violent past and forge a new future
When Victor Jenner emerges from prison he finds himself inexorably drawn to the man who put him there—the policeman he’d shot a bullet through and paralyzed for life. But it seems that David Fleetwood isn’t the sort to hold a grudge, and neither is his ravi
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

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Maria Thomarey
Jan 08, 2016 Maria Thomarey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 το βιβλίο το οποίο ηταν η έμπνευση για τον Αλμοντοβαρ στην ταινία του live flesh ( τίτλος στα αγγλικά ) . Πολυ ενδιαφέρον .....
Krok Zero
Mar 16, 2010 Krok Zero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spring-2010
I wasn't going to write a review of this but I feel like I want to get back into the "swing" of Goodreads.

This is my first Ruth Rendell book but I know a fair bit about her. I know that her corpus is divided into two camps--the detective mystery series starring a recurring police inspector (my mom loves these books but they sound boring to me; all whodunits are boring to me unless they were written by hard-drinking badasses in the mid-20th century), and the non-series crime novels which are more
Ben Loory
i read this because Ian Rankin included it on a list of his five favorite literary crime novels. i liked three of the other books he picked a lot (The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Bleak House, and The Name of the Rose) so i figured i'd give it a shot. but, yeah... i don't know. rendell's a good writer who stays very focused and the book is hard to put down, but the whole thing is so obvious from the start. it's like the playing out of a foregone conclusion... there's no ...more
Aug 18, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gretchen Carlson

Very much like a Patricia Highsmith psychological thriller. Victor Jenner, in his late 30s, has just been released after a ten-year stint in prison for attempted murder. He shot a police officer, David Fleetwood, paralyzing him below the waist. He is also a serial rapist, but not many people know this; apparently he admitted a few rapes to the court but was not charged for them, weirdly. Aside from the first chapter, we spend the whole novel inside Victor's mind, which is a horrible place to be,
This is a tough one, because I usually like Rendell's work. Her prose is as powerful as ever in this one, there are some really brilliant moments, and you really get inside the characters. The problem for me was that not only is the protagonist detestable, he's also incredibly boring, which makes it a long read as you spend the entire book (aside from the first chapter) inside his head.
Victor is a serial rapist who has never been convicted of any of his rapes, but has done time for shooting a d
Jan 27, 2016 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It speaks volumes to Rendell's talent as an author that she was able to take such reprehensive reprobates for protagonists and make their stories be such compelling reads. Traditionally I do prefer likeable heroes/heroines, but it just leaves me all the more amazed at how lost I can get in the tales of the amoral, charmless, pathetic individuals that Rendell used to so vividly bring to life throughout her prolific career. This time around, the miscreant is Victor, a man recently freed after ten ...more
Sep 28, 2012 Swee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This was an interesting read. Masterfully written indeed.

3.5 to 4 stars
Let's be honest here, the reason I bought the book was because I saw it on a bookstore. But man, it was worth it alright. This is one book that really captures the persona of an accidental criminal with so much context and depth. It shouldn't be considered much of a story but instead an insight of an emotionally-scarred man, and the reasons why he did what he did.

It may be a dull story for some, but it is a kind of different
Apr 19, 2012 Timothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting: most readers here rate it lowest of Rendell's book. I rate it highest.

Yes, it is about a detestable character, but I came to sympathize with him. The title is a clue. Rendell has made this character, a serial rapist, one large involuntary twitch.

The psychology strikes me as trendy and not very reliable. But the story is expertly done, and remains my favorite book by this author ... when not writing under the name Barbara Vine.
Sep 14, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about a bad man. Rendell doesn't seem to think the reader should feel sorry for him; the book is more of a pyschological study (and perhaps a comment about correctional institutions).

Couldn't put it down though.
Feb 03, 2017 Φίλιππος rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Η πρώτη "πατάτα" της χρονιάς! Επιεικώς Α Θ Λ Ι Ο ! Τζάμπα έχασα τον χρόνο μου.
(θέλω να βρίσω αλλά δεν με αφήνει το επίπεδό μου!!!)
I am giving 3 stars to this book since there are too many rape scenes in this book.

4* Going Wrong
4* The Keys to the Street
3* The Fever Tree and Other Stories
4* A Judgement in Stone
3* Fall of the Coin
4* People Don't Do Such Things
3* The Girl Next Door
3* Harm Done (Inspector Wexford, #18)
2* To Fear a Painted Devil
3* Dark Corners
3* Live Flesh

Inspector Wexford series
3* Shake Hands Forever (Inspector Wexford, #9)
3* The Veiled One (Inspector Wexford, #14)
4* Kissing the Gunner's Daughter (Inspector We
Jill Hutchinson
Jan 15, 2012 Jill Hutchinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
After reading the other reviews of this book, I appear to be in the minority since I thought this psychological study of a rapist/murderer was fascinating. No, it wasn't a mystery as we usually expect from Rendell; instead it probes the mind of a very disturbed young man who has recently been released from prison after shooting a policeman, leaving him paralyzed and in a wheelchair. The young man is obsessed with his victim and decides to make contact with him. This begins a game of cat and mous ...more
John B
Dec 29, 2013 John B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does she do it? I don't think I've read a bad Ruth Rendell, and I've read a fair few! This was the third time I've read it, and it was still as engrossing as before.

We follow a disturbed young man, who after serving 10 years in prison for shooting a police officer in the back, paralysing him, he is inexorably drawn to that officer again, to attempt to befriend him. The characters are drawn with such care and detail, and the descriptions of what Jenner is going through, his ups and, in partic
I really enjoyed this literary crime novel that followed the basic structure of the standard thriller, yet was from the "bad guy"'s perspective. Kind of a thriller, kind of a psychological study, a fun read all around. One of my favorite crime novels I've read in some time.
Feb 25, 2009 Sherree rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was so glad to be done with this book. It was one of the ones you can't finish because anything else you can find to read seems more interesting.
totally not what i expected, reminded me of a lifetime movie.
Jo Hurst
This was written in 1986 and I'm not sure it dates well. I found the writing style a bit dense and overblown at times and the story lacked the thrilling fast pace we so often get now. However, you quickly feel sympathy for Victor as he tries to make sense of his mistakes and I loved the parallels with his victim David Fleetwood at the end. The last few lines deliver a hefty punch as well which leave you feeling desperately sorry for Victor despite what he has done.
Apr 06, 2013 arjuna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I like Rendell's ability to capture and empathise with the perfectly logical internal thought processes of her wonderfully ordinary messed-up protagonists (they are always, on some extremely disturbing level, Everyman), she can occasionally come across as a little heavy-handed, and I think this is the case here. While doing a wonderful job of dissecting Victor-the- damaged-person, the story lacks her usual deftness and lightness of touch in places... I can understand the lack of subtl ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not exactly what I was expecting. I was recommended Ruth Rendell by a friend, but I think I picked a poor book as my first choice to experience this author.

This book was quite creepy. The story is told through the eyes of Victor, a known rapist and attempted murderer, who in a nutshell is a narcissistic psychopath. It was quite eerie to read, and it did keep my attention for most of the book...I'd say about 3/5, then the last part dragged on until the resolution.

I understand Victo
Barbara Rhine
Jan 06, 2016 Barbara Rhine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm. This actually was an in-depth portrait of what might go on inside the head of a rapist who also shot a cop. Now he's out of jail, and putting his life back together. He gets mixed up with the policeman again, and there is also a lot of insight here about what it is like to be paralyzed and in a wheelchair. So this is more than the ordinary crime thriller. Usually the villain is just said to be a villain and that's that. But here Rendell tries to tell us something about why and how he becam ...more
Ms. Jared
I had a hard time getting into this one, but about 90 pages in it picked up. I was really uncomfortable reading from the perspective of a rapist however, and this was one time I didn't feel like Rendell wrote with the intention of making the reader sympathize with the bad guy. That said, I didn't care for or about the main character so I wasn't drawn into this one or moved by it. Perhaps if he wasn't a rapist and an obvious misogynist, and was just a robber or kidnapper I might have felt differe ...more
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
A fascinating study of a very disturbed man after he was released from prison for shooting a policeman in the back, causing paralysis. Victor Jenner always blamed someone else for any of his problems. This is a very suspenseful psychological thriller, in which you are waiting for Victor to snap.

I was able to recall this story very easily, which does not happen that often with books that I had read several years before. Guess it had quite an effect on me.
Aug 11, 2014 Vishaal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, fiction
The thing that disappoints me most about the book is the fact that it has potential for so much, yet delivers so little.

It feels like, Rendell is, sort of, all over the place with what she's writing about. There is no sense of mystery, almost everything is predictable. Noting solid about a psycho-killer's perspective. What's worse, you seem to wait forever for things to start unraveling.

Falls flat.
Jul 16, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Crime

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Dec 22, 2015 Mindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, which is from the perspective of a rapist. It was hard to read at points, but not for the reasons I thought it would be. It gave me a perspective that was surprising to me (not one of sympathy, in case you're worried about having that response). I just found it to be a perspective I wasn't expecting that elicited a reaction in me that surprised me.
David Zerangue
Mar 23, 2014 David Zerangue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Ruth Rendell writes from the view of the criminal and exposes the logic he uses when engaging with others and the world around him. If you think about it, it is disturbing how rational he sees himself and how affected others are. I would suggest focusing on the workings of his mind rather than simply reading her words. The effect is much more profound that way...
Bea Alden
Oct 27, 2008 Bea Alden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Ruth Rendell is generally thought of as one of the finest, if not the finest, writer of psychological mystery/suspense novels. Live Flesh is almost completely "psychological" as it follows, day by day in chilling detail, the thought processes of a twisted, yet also pathetic, rapist, thief and brutal murderer.
Mar 12, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I remember seeing a spanish speaking adaptation of this book years ago and it stuck in my head. When I found the book I was very excited. Ruth Rendell has a knack for writing understated tension.
May 20, 2013 Joanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was sick, and read this in one day. Great job. I've known people with minds like Victor's. They can blame every nasty thing they do on someone else, and believe it to be true. A well drawn portrait of a killer.
Jul 22, 2016 Burnley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The main character, deeply wounded, blaming his actions on others, is unable to comprehend his plight in life. He is ghastly. This is a seriously creepy psychological thriller which deftly exposes the heart and soul of a psychopath.
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A.K.A. Barbara Vine

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, was an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries and above all for Inspector Wexford.
More about Ruth Rendell...

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“It was useless arguing with people like her. They had stereotyped minds that ran along grooves of stock response and the commonplace.” 5 likes
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