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Thirteen Steps Down

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  3,208 ratings  ·  291 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
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Crown (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  3,208 ratings  ·  291 reviews

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Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating Rendell read, concerning two individuals who live in their own sort of fantasy worlds, and what happens when they cross paths ...

This is a psychological study of two unique individuals: a young man who services exercise equipment for a living, and an elderly woman living in her family home, a mansion, which is slowly deteriorating around her. Sad to say, I saw reflections of both characters in family, friends, and teaching colleagues. The unwillingness to change, to accept society
Barbara H
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
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
Deb Jones
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having read four or five of Ruth Rendell's books thus far, I am happy that she is a prolific author. Not only has she been prolific, but she has remained constant in the quality of her story-telling in my experiences.

Thirteen (13) Steps Down is a stand-alone psychological thriller that for me began very slowly. My patience was rewarded as I delved further into the story. Her plot is very much character-driven which lent itself to the initial slow pace, but drama begins to ensue before too long.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-fiction
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.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it liked it
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. ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I've read a few Rendell novels before and I couldn't put them down. 'Thirteen Steps Down' 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 t ...more
Jun 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seemed like a perfect read for the day. Back to the murky world of Rendell's morally reprehensible criminally amateur miscreants. It really is a high testament to an author's talent that she has so consistently managed to produce utterly engaging stories about utterly repugnant reprobates and/or utterly unlikeable social outsiders, somehow finding enough humanity in their plights and their motivations to make for such compelling reading experiences. This one was strongly reminiscent of arguably ...more
Bruce Beckham
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Ruth Rendell’s Thirteen Steps Down is something of an amalgam of her earlier works – the antihero a self-deluded sociopath who reminded me of a hapless version of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley. In this case it is gym service engineer Mix Cellini who proves singularly reckless when it comes to the disposal of his victims.

Set in Notting Hill, London, the narrative is written from alternating points of view: Mix himself; his elderly battle-axe of a landlady, Gwendoline Chawcer; and Nerissa Nash,
Lady Delacour
If your looking for something different,
with some unusual charters,
this may be the story for you.
It sure was for me! I liked it!!
Narrator Ric Jerrom did a nice job.
Almost clean. Some Foul Language.
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
Amanda Patterson
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 indulg
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
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 17, 2008 rated it liked it
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. ...more
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. ...more
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
ML Downie
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
interesting concept with surprising ending but not very well written. guess i read too many of kate atkinson´s.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jun 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Ruth Rendell died at the age of 85 with an incredible library of books she had written. For me, she never disappoint, sure some stories are better than others but her worst are superior to many.
Here is a little synopsis of Ruth Rendell's writing accomplishments, from the Telegraph's obituary for her:
"She revitalised the mystery genre to reflect post-war social changes and wove into more than 60 books such contemporary issues as domestic violence, transvestism, paedophilia and sexual frustration.
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio, suspense
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. ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ruth Rendell consistently amazes me with her ability to drill down into the souls of her characters and make us understand how their often irrational acts seem entirely rational to them. She is a master at limning a character with the gradual accretion of details. At the end, we may not like her characters but we know them intimately.

One of Rendell's real strengths as a writer is that her secondary characters are not stick figures. She gives us three-dimensional portraits of all the significant
Steve P
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Few writers can uncover the twisted little psyches of ordinary-seeming characters like Ruth Rendell. In 13 Steps Down the main protagonists are a lonely, bookish old woman, living in the past, completely out of touch with modernity and her 'lodger', a lowly exercise machine repair 'engineer' who harbors delusions of grandeur about a super model and who is obsessed by the legend of the neighborhood's notorious serial killer. Beautifully written and marvelously plotted. Extraordinary. ...more
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ruth Rendell ranks as one of the top 2 or 3 British crime writers, and with good reason. I read a review recently which said she turned the "whodunit" into "whydunit" with her astute psychological insight. The characters in Thirteen Steps Down are each painted vibrantly real, ranging from an elderly recluse to a young psychopath. Can't wait to read more Rendell. ...more
Beverley Rochford
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
There are other Ruth Rendell books I like better, but I did love the anxious feeling this book has from beginning to end and the fact that the fictional main character was obsessed with a real-life serial killer from London, which led me to watch a movie I had never seen before but thoroughly enjoyed- 10 Rillington Place.
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was with this book until the last 10 pages. Why the author felt the need to introduce a random character at that late point, I don't know. I thought it did nothing to enhance the story. In fact, it made me change my opinion of the book as a whole. Rather disappointing ...more
Prather Ann
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
Plot was similar to a few of her others (someone gets obsessed and it doesn't end well) but not nearly as clever. ...more
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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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“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.” 5 likes
“Goodness, Mr. Cellini, I've not time to answer all these questions. I've got to get on.'

With what? She seldom did anything but read, as far as he knew. She must have read thousands of books, she was always at it.”
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