One Across, Two Down
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One Across, Two Down

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  525 ratings  ·  35 reviews

Two things interest Stanley Manning: crossword puzzles, and the substantial sum his wife Vera stands to inherit when his mother-in-law dies. Otherwise, life at 61 Lanchester Road is a living hell. For Mrs. Kinaway lives with them now—and she will stop at nothing to tear their marriage apart. One afternoon, Stanley sets aside his crossword puzzles and changes all their live...more
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Published July 1st 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1971)
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mark monday
a Rendell specialty: ironic downward trajectories and the banality of drab lives. as always, she resists easy condescension. fascinating and darkly-hued, but at times the bleakness becomes almost formulaic. the "protagonist" Stanley is an often mordantly amusing creation, by turns sympathetic and repulsive. he is surrounded by women who are almost caricatured gargoyles. there is barely a mystery here, but rather a grim, non-thrilling psychological thriller. this early work by the author clearly...more
Daphne
I'm a huge fan of Ruth Rendell's suspense novels (as opposed to her Inspector Wexford mysteries, which I don't read as often) and always enjoy her crisp prose and wit. But this novel, from the 1970s, isn't as good as most, perhaps because none of the main characters are compelling. The main protagonist is Stanley, a no-good husband who wants his mother-in-law dead so he can finally put his hands on her money. These two enemies spar humorously, neither of them attractive to the reader, while Vera...more
notgettingenough
Sometimes it's nice to go to something early by a writer to remind oneself that the two of you did get on and it is only in more recent times that there has been a need to part.

The idea itself is nice: as Stanley descends into his breakdown, the only thing that keeps his tic at bay is crosswords. He is a ghastly creep for whom one nonetheless can't help feeling a little sorry. Rendell's good enough to do that. Read her early stuff, if you like this sort of thing, it is quite worth it.
Margie
Compared to other crime writers, this is a great book. Compared to other Ruth Rendell books it's good, but not great. She does such a wonderful job of creating an interesting story even when there's no mystery involved; we know who did what to whom from the outset.
Lori
I wish we had the option of 2.5 stars here. One Across. Two Down is not Rendell's best. With that said, it's still got that cozy creepiness that I love about her novels. Ne'er-do-well Stanley Manning is sick of his sad sack wife Vee (Vera) and shrill mother-in-law Maude. To make matters worse, Maude's longtime friend Ethel will be coming to stay with them, so Stanely will be subjected to a third nattering voice interrupting his already feeble concentration while he solves crossword puzzles and w...more
Fee
I found the murderer's mundaneness fascinating. This is not as complex as some of Rendell's other books, but it was hard for me to put down.
Kirsty Darbyshire
I picked up this Ruth Rendell because of the crossword theme which sounded interesting but actually found that the theme got a bit tedious. What was most interesting about it though was than it's now forty years old and the world has changed a lot in that time. It features one of the characters getting excited about buying her first fridge and washing machine, items I (nearly as old as the book is...) have trouble thinking about living without for very long!

It's not a mystery, it's one of those...more
John
Layabout Stanley is good for nothing except solving and even composing crossword puzzles; certainly he's not good at holding down a job. He's stuck in a small house in London with his colourless wife Vera and his truly ghastly mother-in-law Maud, praying for the day when Maud will shuffle off this mortal coil and he and Vera -- which, in Stanley's mind, means just he -- can get their hands on Maud's money. On the day that Maud's if anything even ghastlier friend Ethel arrives to stay there start...more
Allison C. McCulloch
Nov 17, 2008 Allison C. McCulloch rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery readers, Chabrol & Almodovar fans.
Recommended to Allison by: bought the book at a book sale
I have previously read Judgment in Stone and 13 Steps Down from Rendell, and I can say that this book was a little reminiscent of her other works, in regards to the structure of the story. I am glad I read 13 Steps Down first, as it was extremely similar but much better. Since I like La Ceremonie so much (the movie version of Judgment in Stone), I don't remember if the people going door to door to collect clothes for the church was in the book also, or just in the movie. That was one of the more...more
Hope
Stanley Manning and his wife, Vera, live with Vera's mother, Maud, an impulsive decision made years ago and regretted ever since. There is never peace in the household: Maud and Stanley are forever at loggerheads- each annoys the other- while Vera works and barely supports the household.

Maud is determined to get Vera away from her 'good-for-nothing' husband. She dreams of a happy life in the countryside, living off Maud's savings. Stanley, however, is not so pleased. For one, it means he will n...more
Scott
I was really impressed with this book. Although the quality of writing seemed a slight step down at first after spending so long on Henry Handel Richardson, Rundell provides great passages of lively vividness and psychological realism. Much of the book is similar to the film adaptation I saw a number of years ago, Arvin Brown's _Diary of the Dead_, which was released only five years after the novel's original 1971 publication. As good as that film was, much of what was different about the novel...more
Amber
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
I usually thoroughly enjoy what Ruth Rendell has to offer. This one, not so much. It was difficult for me to pin down a time period, I was confused at the end with a bit of a familial development, and finally, I was disappointed with the climax and the following resolution. Perhaps I am too used to a swift hammer of justice and a straightforward, "here's what happened" explanation of events.
Connie N.
This book started out with great promise and I very much liked it throughout most of it, but I was very disappointed that the ending fell flat. Actually, the ending just sort of faded away with no real kick at all. The "murder" occurred early in the book, and I loved the strong development of Stanley and Vera as their relationship changed as their characters evolved their personalities due to circumstances surrounding the death. I think I'll try more from this author to see what else she has com...more
JodiP
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda
Rendell is my new favorite author.This one was really a good read! There was another one, called NO MORE DYING THEN, which my book club read but I skipped. I am reading it next.
Margaret
As always, Ruth Rendell writes such good psychological mysteries - she really gets into the minds of the characters. This did not disappoint - I loved the cruel and quirky mind of Stanley, who began to think in crossword puzzle lingo. Vera was very real as well - a person who grows from naivety to a confident woman making up her own mind. The interplay between Stanley and his mother-in-law Maud helped build the story and we saw the relationship for what it really was. An enjoyable page-turner.
Jenifer
Audio. I think that this may have been a very old recording. It seemed like it. Kind of technologically out of date - like an old movie. I thought this was a little boring and slow. I know Rendell gets accolades for creating that ordinary, desperate, mundane feeling, but I didn't get too big of a kick out of it. A little more mystery and action please!
Suzan
Not one of her best. I think a lot of it had to do with not being able to relate to the characters. Stanley was an obnoxious git and Vera, a boring doormat. The mother-in-law from hell deserved all she got. There were some interesting twists and turns along the way, but all in all, not one of Rendell's best. I'd take a Wexford over it any day.
Gary M.
I loved this book when I first read it many years ago and loved it just as much upon rereading the other week. It's all about character you see and good well developed characters always carry a story for me. There's also a lot of black humour and the chain of events that doom Stanley are as hilarious as they are tragic. A wonderful book.
Sharonm
An older (’72) stand-alone based on crossword puzzler. The first half dragged, but the web the “villain” managed to catch himself in kept the last half moving quickly. There wasn’t much of a mystery here except how Stanley would be caught. Very satisfying ending.
Ashley FL
This is a rare book that I liked a lot MORE at the end than the beginning. I picked up looking for a mystery, but it's really more of a psychological study of the main character (it is never a mystery what has happened or who was responsible). Very, very creepy.
C.  Bellamy
Occasionally, I like to read a good, light, mystery. This one wasn't bad but I wouldn't say quite as good as an Agatha Christie novel but entertaining all the same. I would recommend it if you're looking for an easy summer read.
Cheryl
Always love Ruth Rendell!! This was one of her earlier works but the story was engaging and was especially interesting because I love crossword puzzles as does the protagonist in this book! A great read!
Cindy
This was my first taste of this author and I really enjoyed the way she set up each character and gave you insight into their past and way of thinking.
Jessica
Great good fun.
Rendell's good with creepy. Nothing like Highsmith of course and all's well that ends well--in this one at least.
I'll try more of her.
Chris Wright
Densely written, lots of detail, Rendell's trademark characters. Held my attention throughout. Not her best but well worth reading.
Lili
I have yet to read a poor Ruth Rendell mystery. in fact I have enjoyed reading them all. Not all at once but over the years.
Ros
The murder is planned with the brain of a crossword puzzler - until it reaches its dramatic final turn
Lynn
Well written. Well plotted. All characters get what they want and, more importantly, what they deserve.
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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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