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Thirteen Steps Down

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  2,955 ratings  ·  271 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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3.56  · 
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 ·  2,955 ratings  ·  271 reviews

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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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
I've read a few Rendell novels before and I couldn't put them down. This one 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 the reader to ...more
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
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
13 STEPS DOWN. (2004). Ruth Rendell. 21/2*.
This was an example of one of Ms. Rendell’s psychological novels. It started off well – if you could believe that a man could fall madly in love with a woman simply by seeing her. We get to follow this man in pursuit of his object of desire, and, obviously, learn that he is a bit deranged. We learn that he is intensely interested in a mass murderer who lived nearby about fifty years ago. He reads up on the killer and learns all he can about his methods.
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 indulges
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 really 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.
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.
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.
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: audio, fiction, 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave this a 3 which was a bit high, but I bumped up to that rating because there were some great elements in the story. The overall story was a bit improbable. I mean what are the chances the supermodel upon whom the nut job is fixated on is also the daughter of the niece of the friend of the nut job's landlord and who also visits the psychic that also owns a gym that the nut job's actual girlfriend works at who met the nut job when he came in thinking the supermodel belonged to that gym rathe ...more
Constance Fastré
Mix is a victim. Beaten up by his stepfather when he was a child, shunned by his mother, he has a meaningless job and a miserable common life. But he knows he is destined to greater things: fame, money, power. He only need to seduce Nerissa, the top-model and all he deserves will be his. Driven by his admiration of Reggie the serial-killer, he decides to move in an apartment in an old house of Notting Hill. There he can start working on his master plan: showing Nerissa Nash he is the one she has ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
If you want serious crime, this book is not for you. Thirteen Steps Down has a slow progressive storyline that may bore some. Though the book is fairly easy to read so it won't take long even if you get bored when reading if you know what l mean - it is a fast book to read.

The plot basically revolves around the tragedy of flawed people. Either it adds to the tragedy by making the wicked suffer and deprived, l think that's what Rendall wanted. Which then makes the book bland and uncertain; you d
Kees van Duyn
Ruth Rendell heeft de titel 'Queen of crime'. Die titel zal ze verdiend hebben met het schrijven van vele spannende boeken. Neem ik aan. Want als ik moet uitgaan van dit boek is ze die titel zeker niet waard.

Het boek komt ongelooflijk traag op gang en de snelheid die een goede thriller nodig heeft, ontbreek in het boek. Af en toe leek het erop dat er eindelijk wat ging gebeuren en dat de spanning zou toenemen, maar nee, dat was bedrog. Het verhaal ging verder in hetzelfde gezapige tempo als het
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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.
“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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