Thirteen Steps Down
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Thirteen Steps Down

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  1,884 ratings  ·  174 reviews
From the multi-award-winning author of The Babes in the Wood and The Rottweiler, a chilling new novel about obsession, superstition, and violence, set in Rendell’s darkly atmospheric London.

Mix Cellini (which he pronounces with an ‘S’ rather than a ‘C’) is superstitious about the number 13. In musty old St. Blaise House, where he is the lodger, there are thirteen steps dow...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Crown (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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The major character in this book is Mix Cellini, a young man whose life is ruled by obsession, superstition and self-interest. He is intensely preoccupied by the life and literature of an early twentieth century serial murderer. This so dominates Mix's life, that he has read every available piece of literature and visited all of the crime scenes. He decided to take up residence in the only available property near where the murderer had lived. This is the decaying mansion of an elderly spinster,...more
Jul 27, 2012 Jenn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: psychological mystery fans
This is not my favorite Ruth Rendell, but it is sufficiently creepy. For me it asks the question: are we all truly crazy when we think we are normal? Or,is my normal someone else's crazy? Clearly the main characters have one mental defect or another, but do I? If you want to read a better Ruth Rendell book that deals with the psychological effects of murdering someone, check out One Across, Two Down.
a book group selection. i'm not usually big on mysteries, but i'm determined to read with an open mind.

i've really tried with this book, for the sake of my book group discussion, but it is just awful. it reminds me of the movie b.t.k. that i watched recently which was most probably the worst thing i have ever seen. this is the book version of that situation. i simply can't get past the pathetic characters, the odd storylines or the contrived connections between characters. i don't recommend this...more
aPriL meows 'n growls TLDR
I've read a few Rendell novels before and I couldn't put them down. This one was like a slow lifting of the curtain until finally there are a mass of actors in view and moving about. No question that the acting is interesting and eventually the many individuals began to differentiate themselves by their activities and their interests. Mix Cellini, in particular, appears dangerous, especially to Gwendolen Chawcer, his landlady, and Nerissa Nash, super model. But it takes awhile for the reader to...more
Amanda Patterson
Ruth Rendell has written many books. She has won more awards than The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy managed at this year’s Oscars. To add insult to injury she’s notched up a sterling collection under the pseudonym of Barbara Vine. King Solomon’s Tapestry is a must.

Rendell’s chilling Thirteen Steps Down deals with obsession, superstition, and violence. Her dark London is the answer to Rankin’s disturbing Edinburgh.

Mix Cellini is a semi-educated mechanic. He fixes exercise machines. He indulges...more
I've never read anything by this author before. She writes mysteries. This mystery involves a stalker, an old woman, her nosy friends, a high fashion model, and an Indian neighbor. Very chilling. Her bad guy is so much more authentic than any killer Mary Higgins Clark has ever written. This guy is so good, you actually feel anxious that he may get caught. Very believable characters. Well written.
This book was horrible. The plot never went anywhere and I felt like I was walking in quicksand trying to get through it. I stuck with it hoping the ending would be great, but no. The ending was the worst part of the book. All in all it was just boring and a terrible read.
I think that Ruth Rendell (by this or any other name) is one of the best mystery/suspense writers out there, but this book was so difficult for me to finish. The quality of writing was great, but the characters are all so completely unlikable that I almost dreaded listening to it at work each day. However, I consider this a success on the part of the author, as this to me was a study in delusion. Each main character was somehow living completely under the sway of their own misconceptions and del...more
I am somewhat of a mystery fiend. I have slowed down a bit from my youth, in which I would land on a series, and then spend the next few weeks devouring everything the author had ever written, but I still love a good mystery, and there is no question that Rendell is one of the best mystery writers out there today. I first came to her work through her nom-de-plume, Barbara Vine. Under that name she writes books that are more suspense novels than traditional mysteries. They usually involve the gra...more
I enjoyed this book. As I got into it, the story became more and more gripping, although bleak. I think I'll have to read something lighter next as an antidodote.

13 steps down particularly interests me because it has an unsypathetic protagonist, a brave move that Rendell pulls off extremely well. Despite this it managed to retain my interest by having various points of view, some of them more compelling than Mix Cellini, the main character.

While all the characters made their own choices, It di...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
I just read Ruth Rendell’sThe Crocodile Bird & The Water's Lovely- both excellent. Read great reviews on this one and was all set for a similarly enjoyable read. Such a letdown. The story is agonizingly drawn out; every character is either just dull or out-and-out dislikeable. In fact in most cases they’re both!

I think I need to give myself a break from Ruth Rendell for now anyway.

Laudy Issa
I enjoyed this book, to a certain extent. What I liked about it was the insight it gave me on a distured pyschopath's mind and the eerie tone that set up the right mood! What I didn't enjoy, though, was the slow pace that the events progressed at and at some point, I got really bored... But then again, Rendell got the hair on my head to stand up by the end! It isn't the best book I've read so far, but it isn't the worst either. Despite the great pyschological analysing done, and the good aspects...more
Mostly unlikable and not particularly interesting characters in this audio book capably read by Ric Jerrom. Mix Cellini is obsessed with a serial murderer from fifty years ago and obsessed and delusional about a super model of today. His landlady is old, cranky, and delusional about reuniting with a man she loved fifty years ago. I picked this up because I was out of audio material and couldn't remember reading Ruth Rendell before. Think I will still try one of her Inspector Wexford mysteries.
James Piper
It's the first and only book I've read of this author. I realize she has a big following, but I'm not one of them. Why? I never got into this book. I didn't care about any of the characters especially the murderer. Too mundane? Too common? I'm not sure, but I know I hated a scene later in the novel where the murderer used a pillow. I screamed. How stupid. You want me to believe this? That moment completely spoiled the story for me.
Beverley Rochford
another English author of mysteries- I enjoyed it- written in the first person so you can really get into the killer's mind- you know the killer so the only thing to keep your interest is how everything falls neatly into place to end it all. I'll probably read another by the same author just to compare.
Rendell is possibly the best mystery writer out there today. Rarely have I found a book of hers that didn't make me think as I tried to put together the psychology behind her characters. 13 Steps down is no exception.
I am doing my escape reading.
blame my sister.

I read another Rendell as well but apparently it was more forgettable, I've already forgotten almost everything about it...I prefer her novels to her Wexford mysteries.
My first read by Ruth Rendell, 13 Steps Down, was unsettling, tightly written, and at times so intriguing as the reader is taken into the mind of a sociopath.

As I began the book I was tempted to put it aside, the content was so disturbing and so unlike most books I have read. At first I read sparingly, but soon found myself totally intrigued by the reasoning or lack of reasoning of the main character. The idea of a stalker who becomes a murderer was disturbing. Yet, as each character was develo...more
Prather Ann
Plot was similar to a few of her others (someone gets obsessed and it doesn't end well) but not nearly as clever.
Pris robichaud

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places, 29 Dec 2005

4.99 stars
"In Rendell's view, we seldom understand how life works and how little control we have over it; criminals are the biggest dolts of all for risking so much on schemes that are bound to go awry. What's more, murderers also lack sympathetic imagination (as opposed to the narcissistic imagination of fantasy)." So says, Ruth Rendell, and as we read this novel, we say "I Believe, I Believe!"
Mix Cellini is a work-out equipment specialis...more
The main character Mix Cellini, as many reviews will tell you, is serial killer obsessed, neat freak who is obsessed with a supermodel that just happens to live in his neighborhood. He rents a flat on the top floor of an elderly woman (Gwendolyn Chawcer) who is not just a ludite, but a ludite that time forgot. She has very few friends, doesn't like to keep a clean house (her spiderwebs have spiderwebs) She keeps the spare keys to her tenant's apartment in her dryer, which she never uses. I'm pic...more
Lourdes Fernandez Venard
In this psychological thriller, Rendell gives us Mix Cellini, a troubled young man who is obsessed with a beautiful model, Nerissa Nash, to the point of becoming a stalker. He's also obsessed with Reginald Christie, a serial killer from the 1940s and '50s. He reads all he can about the notorious doctor and, one late night, even thinks he sees Christie's ghost outside his flat. Cellini is also deeply superstitious, especially when it comes to the number 13, which also happens to be the number of...more
Feb 04, 2013 Naveen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Naveen by: Abhay Nair
The genre of crime-fiction revolves around the crime, the criminal, his/her motives and law enforcement. Majority of the best-sellers are 'whodunnits' from a detective's point-of-view or a thriller which involves an investigating protagonist or a legal courtroom drama. Most of the crime-fiction, that I have read, involved murder mysteries that were solved by the likes of 'Sherlock Holmes', 'Poirot', 'Inspector Reubus' (recommended by +Abhay) and even 'Jack Reacher'. But "Thirteen Steps Down" by...more
Dona Rosenfield started me reading her.

If you haven't tried Rendell yet and you like to read, then you really should. She has won almost every coveted mystery prize, and in England she is outdone only by P.D. James (to whom this book is dedicated). Her non-Inspector Wexford stories are not mysteries but rather psychological thrillers and this one is no different. I consider her a master at characterization and great at complex and interesting plots. This book is totally in keeping with her previ...more
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Ruth Rendell's Thirteen Steps Down was published (in 2004) under the 'Ruth Rendell' name, rather than the 'Barbara Vine' persona. However, for me this book crosses a line between the two 'authors'.
I see Ruth Rendell as writing crime/mystery novels with easily recognisable characters, some nice, some nasty, while I see Barbara Vine as writing deeper, psychological mysteries with many troubled (and often deeply unlikeable) main characters.

But Thirteen Steps Down crosses the line.

We do have a build...more
Vicky-leigh Sayer
I have to confess to not being a huge Ruth Rendell fan. I have read a couple of her others books and not been overly impressed, but I was drawn to this one after watching the ITV 2 part mini-series based on the book. As is normally the case with these things, the book is infinitely better, although I thought the TV adapation chose brilliant actors to portray the main characters of Mix Cellini and Gwendolen Chaucer.

13 Steps down, is a creepy book, full of superstition. The two main characters are...more
ok - where to start... first with the positive. the writing was ok. i liked the various voices/points of view in each chapter. i like keeping up with each character and reactions to others. that's about it. the book was dripping with irony to the point of excess. the characters were pretty awful people with few, if any, redeeming qualities. dark and disturbing and dreary. ok - so rendell can set up a "feeling", but it wasn't a pleasant one. still, i have to give her credit for that. it was consi...more
Nicholas Whyte

It is a gripping and somewhat grim read, of a lonely old woman and her obsessive lodger; he kills his Bosnian girlfriend, and hides her body under the floorboards. It's a crime novel rather than a mystery novel, since we know what the murderer has done and why he has done it all the way through; the police barely feature in the story. The other main character in the book apart from the murderer and his landlady is the city of London in the Noughties; s...more
The minus is my fault, really. I packed this book to read on the plane and while I was in Seattle, so I wasn't able to immerse myself in the story. There were the usual distractions and interuptions of travel and fatigue.

In her latest, Rendell again provides a trademark intricate, braided story. This time the intertwining characters include an elderly woman who has lived a cloistered existence in her father's home; a supermodel named Nerissa with a sweet, down-to-earth disposition and a crush o...more
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What? 1 7 Apr 05, 2014 02:52PM  
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Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.
More about Ruth Rendell...
From Doon With Death (Inspector Wexford, #1) A Judgement in Stone The Babes in the Wood (Inspector Wexford, #19) A Sight for Sore Eyes Kissing the Gunner's Daughter (Inspector Wexford, #15)

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“She wasn't there. He wouldn't have had to look too closely. She stood out from others like an angel in hell or a rose in a sewer.” 3 likes
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