Ann's Reviews > Thirteen Steps Down

Thirteen Steps Down by Ruth Rendell
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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 delusions, and to see them careening towards disaster was completely unsettling. I think that Rendell is the master of keeping the reader uncomfortable, but also intrigued enough to keep them reading. I've said in the past that I really love characters who are bad, but that you kind of want to see triumph, but Mix Cellini has perhaps cured me of that. Yet, I still wanted to keep reading. Despite my disgust with everyone in the book, I always wanted to keep reading. This affected me so much that when I started the book I kept thinking how much I love modern British mysteries and how much I would like to live in London, but by the end I kind of felt freaked out by the entire country. It's told in third person limited view, so each section that pertains to a particular character is contained within his or her own understanding of events, and it was fascinating to see how the misconceptions of each character in relation to each other would intersect and merge.

Since I listened on CD, I have to mention that the reader did a wonderful job of narrating each characters' section in slightly different accents (from Mix's low London to Miss Chawcer's "queen's English"), which really helped make these different perspectives affective and real to me.

My one complaint about the book is that I think the ending was a little deus ex machina, and sort of fell apart. The twist seemed to come out of nowhere and felt very flat and pasted in. Otherwise, it was a great book, even if I kind of hated reading it.
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