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The Face of Trespass
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The Face of Trespass

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  517 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Two years ago he had been a promising young novelist. Now he survived - you could hardly call it living - in a near derelict cottage with only an unhooked telephone and his own obsessive thoughts for company. Two years of loving Drusilla - the bored, rich, unstable girl with everything she needed, and a husband she wanted dead. The affair was over. But the long slide into ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 5th 1995 by Arrow (first published 1974)
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mark monday
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: murdertime
Rendell's non-Wexford mysteries tend to be extended portraits of loneliness. in this novel, the narrative is almost minimalist, with action replaced by an intense character study of the lonely central character: an extreme close-up of perspective that is almost oppressive at times - particularly in the first half of the novel. strange and beautifully written but overall rather inherently minor note. if the idea of a thoughtful but depressing chamber piece for two (or three) appeals to you, one s ...more
Cleo Bannister
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of Ruth Rendell’s stand-alone novels, one of those where she chooses a subject to be pitied and then reveals exactly how flawed the human race is.

It cheers people knowing others are unhappy, don’t you think?

Gray Lanceton had started his literary career with promise, well enough that he’d had more money to spend than he thought but for the last three years he hasn’t written a word. Living in a hovel on the edge of a forest his only contact the milkman and his once a week foray to the
Stephen McQuiggan
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The terror of a phone that is never answered, or that never rings; in a way, that is what this book is all about. A deceptively nasty little tale with a neat summation. Gray can't bring himself to kill his lover's husband and drifts off into a hermit like existence of dreams, only to be brought back with a single phone call. The heartlessness of it all, especially seen through the naive, love addled eyes of Gray is actually quite thrilling.
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A perfect little book, and it inspired me to bake a delicious Dundee Cake.
James Barnard
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Here’s Ruth Rendell in familiar territory – an obsessive loner reflecting on the past and the wrong choices which got them into an unhealthy situation. What marks this one out is the uncommon level of self-awareness Rendell allows Guy Creevey to have – he is acutely conscious of his lack of moral fibre, realising full well that if he allows his former (married) lover back into his life, no good will come of it. This proves remarkably astute, given what follows – a factor which adds considerably ...more
Ronald Wise
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful character study of an author who follows his successful first novel with an extreme case of writer's block — a slovenly hermit who wants to avoid social life and all its responsibilities. But wait!… isn't this a mystery novel? In the last few pages a sequence of surprises bombard protagonist Gray, but at the very end we learn of another surprise he's yet to encounter. A classic mystery which left me wondering why it had not been made into a movie. Added to my reading list with all of ...more
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of the obsession book
Even though I read initially this a while ago, I always remembered it - it's one of those slow descent into madness books that is so believeable you are shocked at what you will accept from the main character. This one, however, ends with a great twist. I recently reread it because I finally found it again by accident. It is the story of a writer so obsessed with a woman that he will do anything for her. Anything.
Steve Wilson
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book - published in 1974 - came to me via a friend who was cleaning out his cottage and is one of many currently sitting on my books shelves awaiting to be read.

This book provides more suspense within its less than 200 pages than many writers can within novels 2 and three times its length. No cast of thousands. No myriad of sub plots. Just a simple story told exceptionally well with a twist at the end.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the best non-Wexford Ruth Rendell book I have read to date, yet at first, I thought it boring, and almost decided not to finish it. It begins as a tale of a passionate affair that has come to an end, but, as always with Rendell’s characters, there is a lot more that lies beneath the seems-to-be. In this one, I didn’t see the ending coming!
Kathleen O'Nan
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The kind of obsessive, self-fooling love that Graham has for a rich debutante who happens to be married already is an example of why Kiss wrote "Love Sucks"! A well-written look at obsession and loneliness.
Ken Saunders
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This strange character study, of another wonderfully realized Rendell hermit, explodes into excruciating suspense from a wildly unconventional source. I would have liked another scene with the killer at the quickly executed conclusion- but still a satisfying thriller.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
TRIGGER WARNINGS: suicide, mental illness, ableism, misogyny, ageism, classism, adultery/cheating, domestic violence, substance use, animal cruelty, sociopathy

Would have been three stars as a short story, but the irrelevant first 80% was tacked on. Only that last 20% is relevant. So what could have been a good short story was made instead into a terrible novel with a good ending. Hope you have heaps of patience if you decide to give this a shot.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this 1974 mystery, or misadventure, is a great comic novel in traditional tongue-in-cheek English manner, everything understated, implied, left to the reader to understand. complex characters rendered in journalistic detail. unlike any other set of characters i've encountered and yet also familiar at the core. a tour de force farce involving obsessive love and death.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well-crafted thriller with a strong moral compass.
Caroline Bennett
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen Lawton
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not exactly sure what it is I liked about this small, densely packed novella. I find Rendell's emphasis on description has me skipping paragraphs at a time to find the next piece of action. Sure they're well crafted and 'literary' paragraphs but I've always found that style of writing a bit pretentious preferring the minimalist writing if the "Scandi noir" writers. But Rendell's does also craft a good plot and structures them well. Will be interesting to read more of her later works to see h ...more
Lynn Weber
Nov 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Well written and relatively "novely" for a mystery. But the fact that it was written in the 1970s shows, in the sense that you can see the denouement coming a mile away. It reminds me Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in that way; when it was first written, the plot must have been shocking or felt fresh, but now many novels have been written with that plot line. Luckily, Ruth Rendell is worth reading for her writing alone.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
A typical and typically fascinating Rendell suspense novel-this one about a lonely writer unable to write and fixating on a past affair which had tried to lure him into a moral area where he refused to travel. He is trying to cope with his current responsibilities, but his obsession render him incompetent and bad luck doesn't help.
Jennifer B.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I must admit that I didn't like this book at first. The main character is just so hopeless, so much his own worst enemy. However, towards a third of the way through it starts to take off. It is a nice little twister, and a nice reminder of how difficult it was to get ahold of people before Smartphones.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was tempted at times to set this one aside, but ended up listening to the whole work. Perhaps Rendell is an acquired taste, or maybe a better narration might help - but I could never really get all the way into the story. Some nice language and turns of phrase, and fair imagery - just no "grab" from the plot.
Michelle Eames
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I often find it hard to place a time / era on Ruth Rendell books, some how this book feels as if it was set post war, rather than early 70s. Again the build up and almost feverish way the main character concentrates on tiny details is compelling.

I did find I had to skip some pages to check on the dog.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Amelia by: Bobbie Gledhill
An early Rendell that one could hardly describe as a rip-roaring read but entertaining nevertheless. It is testament to her talent that Rendell can keep the reader engaged through a tale that documents, essentially, one man's life in a hovel and his trip to and from France to visit his sick mother...
Eileen Sickler
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I listen to most books and so appreciate a good reader. I wasn't quite sure about this one but it didn't take long to enjoy his voice. Consistent with Rendell's characters, this main character was a little off. This wasn't a disappointment but don't read this book or frankly, any of Ruth Rendell's books if you want "light".
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A book by Ruth Rendell is always a lot of fun. This short, compact story is earlier Rendell, but has great character development and shading, and has a morally satisfying ending. Maybe too satisfying? Naaaah...
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it

Dark and brooding.
Rendall is such a master that even thoug you know exactoy what is going to happen, you keep reading, mesmerized. A struggling writer refuses to kill his mistress's husband and his life just goes downhill from there.
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am a big fan of Ruth Rendell and have read dozens of her books. But this early novel is one of her weakest. She was trying out her wings here, but had not yet become a writer with the startling creativity and deep psychological insights that she later became.
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elegantly read, this intense novel explores Gray's relationships, hopes and desires, largely through his thoughts, actions and reactions. At the end a couple of seemingly unimportant incidents from earlier in the story reveal why his life unravels so completely, before a glimmer of hope appears.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
nederlandstalig: De valstrik
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Horribly predictable all the way through. Not one sympathetic character, very disappointing.
Cynthia Sillitoe
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
At least it didn't take long to read.
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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.
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