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King Solomon's Carpet

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  778 ratings  ·  51 reviews
King Solomon's magic carpet is the London Underground, running past the disused old school building that houses the most ill-assorted covey that Vine (Ruth Rendell) has brought together since A Fatal Inversion for this updating of Conrad's novel of terrorist conspiracy, The Secret Agent.

Tom Murray is a promising musician reduced to illegal busking in Underground stations...more
355 pages
Published 1992 by Viking (Penguin Group) (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

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Rachel
Aug 17, 2014 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in psychological novels or in the London Underground.
Recommended to Rachel by: Sarah Knowler
Shelves: august-2011, 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Infame Descalzo
Bien, varios personajes en este librito. Primero, mi amada Cecilia, una vieja inglesia thatcheriana que al final es... ¡En tu cara Thatcher! Tenemos a Jarvis, que parece que al principio es el protagonista, pero más bien es un elemento "aglutinante" de las historias centrales, que yo incluiría en Jasper, Alice, Tom y Axel. Hay más personajes, que al principio me costó acordarme, por ejemplo, Daphne, Tina, Bienvida (¡qué nombrecito!), Jed, el hombre-oso del subte de Londres... Cada uno tiene su m...more
Annalee
From the back of the book:

Jarvis Stringer lives in a crumbling schoolhouse overlooking a tube line, compliling his obsessive secret history of London's Underground. His presence and his strange house draw a band of misfits into his orbit; young Alice, who has run away from her husband and baby: Tom, the busker who rescues her: trunt Jasper who gets his kicks on the tubel and mysterious Axel, whose dark secret later casts a shadow over all their lives.

Dispossessed and outcast, those who come to i...more
Roz Morris
Shame on me, but I've never read either Ruth or her alter ego Barbara. Crime fiction, RR's usual genre, doesn't get me excited at all. But a friend recommended this... and I'm so glad she did.
First of all, it's steeped in the mysteries of the Underground - I'm a real London Tube freak. Second, the lady has earned her golden daggers and whatnot. Interesting, conflicted characters who get their hooks into you and you want to get back to. Terrific descriptive passages - either of the minutae of a...more
Karen Gygli
I have read Ruth Rendell's novels, and those under her pen name Barbara Vine. Like The Bridesmaid, I found this novel quite bleak and gothic, and yet, also like The Bridesmaid, I couldn't stop reading it. The author takes us into the lives of broken families, disturbed and frightened runaways, and musicians who busk on the London Underground wondering if they've thrown away their last chance to be great. Along the way, the reader learns a lot about the London Underground and is treated to some o...more
Victoria
After enjoying The Chimney Sweeper's Boy and A Dark-Adapted Eye so much, I was really looking forward to reading this one. It has some great reviews online, with fans saying it's their favorite Barbara Vine etc etc. Perhaps I should have learnt from Grasshopper that Vine's genius is somewhat hit-and-miss, but I did not and my expectations were high. I was horribly disappointed.

What I usually love about Vine is the way she begins her books with a secret, and then slowly drip-feeds the reader fact...more
Michael
I have no idea why this book is relegated to the mystery section. Yes it is a bit mysterious but it isn’t one of those police procedurals. Barbara Vine (a.k.a. Ruth Rendell) has a macabre sense of humor, maybe justice as a side dish. She builds up the characters while the story is somewhat peripheral. The characters have apparent flaws, even the self-described madman reading Nietzsche with implied superman rant, are reasonably well developed albeit I could not particularly relate to any them. I...more
alessandra falca
Strano questo libro di Ruth Rendell (alias Barbara Vine), strano perché mi ero fatta un'idea ed invece la cara Ruth mi ha spiazzato raccontandomene tutta un'altra. Non era il primo libro che leggevo della Rendell, era invece il mio primo libro a nome Vine e non ne sono rimasta delusa. E' un libro corale dove tutti i personaggi: molti e variegati, sembrano seguire le linee della metropolitana di Londra che è la vera protagonista (insieme a tutte le altre metropolitane del mondo) del libro stesso....more
Kasia James
A warning with this one: it's beautifully written, but don't expect a murder mystery (this is Barbara Vine, not Ruth Rendell, after all), and do expect to be depressed.
I'd forgotten how dire and dark this tale really is: people living in despair, on the edge of society, and some of them slowly going mad. Jolly jolly.
That said, it is a lovingly crafted book, and the characters are wonderfully real, just don't expect a laugh a minute.
Jill Hutchinson
Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, certainly fills her books with strange, dark, and twisted people!!! This story deals with the London Underground (the Tube) and the various obsessions that the characters have with it. The focus of the story revolves around a group of disparate young people who reside in an old school with a tragic past and their relationships with each other and the Underground. You are never sure where the story is going but it wraps up most of the questions in the last t...more
Antony Bennett
I loved the fact that some history of the London Underground is interspersed with the plot in this novel - I don't know why, because I don't live in London, but I've always found stories about the tube's background fascinating. The novel has several characters all somehow connected with an old school house converted into an eccentric boarding house. For me the best and easily the most affecting story was that of Cecilia and her best friend Daphne - I would have been happy to read that on its own...more
Cynthia
Vine's books are always more about the who and why rather than the how and this also has that emphasis on character. However, this story about an assortment of lonely and floundering souls sharing a house takes a very long time to get going. Jarvis, the owner of the house, is writing a book about the London Underground while his very young cousin Jasper is getting to know the system in very foolhardy ways. Their storylines end up being more interesting than that of the weird love triangle who dr...more
Dereka
Listened to this on audio as part of my project to read through all of Ruth Rendell's books written as Barbara Vine. Her writing is superb, her characters skillfully drawn. Her plots typically involve a big cast of characters, some sympathetic, some less so. The sense of place is always strong-- in this case it was a London house and the whole London Underground. There is always something sinister going on but it takes a while to figure out exactly what that is. Why aren't there more of them on...more
Lynne
A rather depressing book full of sad characters. I enjoyed the information about the London Underground system to begin with but got rather bored by it eventually. Barbara Vine is very good at creating a sinister atmosphere but for me there was no real release from that. I like books where the place is a character in the story and London features very strongly here but if I hadn't had to read this book for a course I am doing I probably would not have finished it.
Noria
A very interesting read, especially for everyone who's been to London and has used the tube several times. Having a tube map at hand does help a bit with the story, no matter if it's an old map from the end of the 1980s or a new one.

It was interesting to see how the story unfolded and how the different life stories got together and interwoven and the bits about the history of the London Underground was a very nice addition. I really enjoyed this book.
Dave Morris
A curate's egg, really. It is definitely worth reading, but it can be a bit of a wade. That's mainly because there are so many characters and we aren't expected particularly to connect with any one of them. Several times, just as you're getting interested in a character, they walk out of the story, never to return. Having said that, it still has lots of nice writing - just don't expect a page-turner.
Jayne Charles
The blurb on the back of this book stated that 'towards the end the tension is almost suffocating'. Absolutely true - I was experiencing considerable tension as I wondered if I had spent £7.99 on a book in which nothing was actually going to happen. So much time was spent creating 'atmosphere' that the plot was all but forgotten. A bit too arty and up-its-own-backside for my liking.
Johnsergeant
A somewhat strange book. I enjoyed it but it was not what I expected. If you're interested in finding out about the history of the London Underground while being entertained by a series of vignettes which do tie together as a complete story you will enjoy this. I found the transition between the story and the London Underground to be a bit abrupt at times.
Toni
I read this in the summer of 2008. I remember because that was when I traveled to Europe and actually got to see the London Tube. The story, as I remember it, revolves around the London Subway system and the lives of several characters who live near various stations. To my mind, one of Rendell's best (Written as Barbara Vine I believe).
Mary
Ehh...not nearly so good as Barbara Vine's other stuff I've read. As you readers might know, VIne is the name that Ruth Rendell sometimes uses. I much prefer A DARK-ADAPTED EYE which was the very first time I "met" Ms. Vine/Ms. Rendell. My favorite Ruth Rendell remains A JUDGEMENT [sic] IN STONE, a crime novel about illiteracy. I love it!
Julia
This is a very good Barbara Vine. Her love of London and history shines through here. I am nota fan of either but still found this a compelling read. She is often criticised for her slightly patronising middle class view of London low-life, but I never feel this... perhaps because I am equally conventional in my onw views!
Amy
this book resembles a work of music or a play because it's written with pacing so deliberate it's beautiful. and dark. which are 2 of my favorite things.
if it had been written 10 years later it would have been treated differently because of the political atmosphere. just a random thought.
Jane Ayres
A dark story but cleverly done, with all the many intricate threads weaving together (like a carpet!)to the dramatic conclusion. Lots of characters to keep up with and at first they seem unconnected but this is a consummate writer so you want to stay with it to see what happens.
Kaylol
It's too sad. The characters are dislikeable.
The way it's written is much more focused on the characters than on the story - not that the characters are any better than the depressing story.
The only thing I enjoyed was the history of the London underground.
Chas Bayfield
A good read. I love the setting of the Metropolitan Line for this book, especially as I read most of it on that line. Back in the early nineties when I read this, we all feared the IRA so it was odd that Vine's 'terrorist' was not motivated by politics.
Tad Richards
Odd for a murder mystery. There is a murder, sort off, and it is solved at least to the reader's satisfaction, but none of the characters know or care. But a strangely gripping story with compelling characters, and a whole lot about the London subway system.
Justine
Quite fascinating with the tube connection. Found the characters quite interesting but no real connection this time. Again the house was like an extra character. Beautifully told and strung out as always. Barbara Vine-a-thon continues....
Elaine
I just finished rereading this via audio book. I was very drawn to its theme of the London Underground, and as usual Vine/Rendell has created a cast of totally unlikable but fascinating characters.
Bianca
Een ander verhaal dan ik gewend ben van Rendell, maar daarom niet minder leuk. Een fijn boek om even te lezen op de zondagmiddag. Overigens wel in het Nederlands met als titel 'Motieven'.
Lili
This is Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, I'm not sure why she did this but it is an interesting story about people using the London Underground, it's secrets and their lives.
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47687
A.K.A. Ruth Rendell.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication of A Dark Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine in 1986. Books such as King Solomon's Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Anna's Book (original UK title Asta's Book) inhabit the same territory as her psychological crime novels while they further develop themes of family misunderstandings and the side effects of sec...more
More about Barbara Vine...
A Dark-Adapted Eye The Chimney Sweeper's Boy Fatal Inversion Anna's Book The Brimstone Wedding

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