Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lake of Darkness” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
The Lake of Darkness
Ruth Rendell
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lake of Darkness

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,150 ratings  ·  90 reviews
A crime thriller, from the author of A DEMON IN MY VIEW and LIVE FLESH, in which a man who has won a hundred thousand pounds on the pools decides to use some of his new-found wealth to help out those less fortunate than himself.
Published January 1st 1996 by Chivers Audio Books (first published 1980)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lake of Darkness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Lake of Darkness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,150 ratings  ·  90 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Lake of Darkness
Rachel Hall
Ruth Rendell is on fine form in this short novel originally released in 1980, which is a dark and deeply ironic take on the proverb that no good deed goes unrewarded. Rendell approaches this story with a wealth of experience on the malevolent intentions of others and in The Lake of Darkness she captures the cruelty, ignorance, or selfishness of the world or others, that means ones good intentions will often result in being more trouble than they are worth. The Lake of Darkness initially sets out ...more
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ruth-rendell
I was a bit disappointed by Master of the Moor but Lake of Darkness was brilliant. Martin Urban am accountant has won a small fortune in the football pools, thanks to his friend, journalist Tim. However, instead of sharing the winnings with Tim, he decides to play Good Samaritan with half the money. So begins a series of misunderstandings.

Finn is a psychotic hitman living with his schizophrenic mother Lena who was once Martins mothers cleaning lady. Soon Martin and his path will cross with trag
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Ruth Rendell's writing and even her lesser books are fun to read. This may very well be one of those lesser ones. In fact, it strongly reminded me of another one of her books that I can't seem to remember the title of, but it also featured a protagonist that was so utterly clueless about the ways of the world, one practically expects him to be steamrolled under it. Granted this is an older book from a very different time, but still Martin is a staggeringly naïve young man by anyone's and ...more
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Martin, an ordinary, middle-class accountant wins some money playing the football pools, and decides he’s going to give at least half of it away. He comes up with a list of deserving recipients – his cleaner’s sister-in-law, a child who needs surgery, a couple of friends of friends – and writes some letters to set his plan in motion. It’s a simple act of kindness, with only a hint of self-interest. On the heels of his first charitable act, a gift of flowers appears at his door, and he quickly fa ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: slow moving psychological thriller fans
As usual, Rendell doesn't fail to entertain with her weird and deviant characters.
And the audio narration was quite entertaining.

Martin Urban is a conscientious young accountant who wins a pool and suddenly becomes quite affluent, and he decides to use the money to help others less fortunate. He had good intentions, but where did those take him?
Finn is another youngster, quite different, who lives with his widowed and schizophrenic mother who is quite dependent on him. Finn has no qualms in kil
I stumbled upon Ruth Rendell in my teens and, with the exception of Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series, I have persistently returned to her novels. To me Rendell is a genius! Judging by the synopses on the covers of her books, most of her plots seem a trifle bland, not to say boring. However, once you give it a go, you get sucked into her stories.

All her psychological novels have got one decisive feature: She creates protagonists that on the surface have got absolutely nothing in common with eac
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-k, mystery
I was definitely not in the right frame of mind for this; by two-thirds of the way through, I couldn't stand any of the characters and didn't care what happened to them. This isn't to say that Rendell didn't do her usual job of creating interesting, fully-developed characters. I just couldn't stand these. And little things bothered me about this book; I kept finding incidences of her not specifying that time had passed, and it made me want to throw the book. She'd write about, for example, how M ...more
May 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is one of the better Ruth Rendell's I've tried. It is very dark, as the title implies, but it also has touches of humor that are unexpected. One of the two protagonists is a psychopathic serial killer. One is a socially confused accountant. Their eventual meeting is disastrous, but also weirdly funny. The getting there, to that meeting, is alternately horror-inducing and roll-your-eyes peculiar. But with both protagonists, there is a true sense of the pathetic that at the same time repels a ...more
Lady Delacour
After starting and stopping several audiobooks,
I thought .... just give me a Ruth Rendell Story.
She is a dependable author that never lets me down.
Love her ability to create unusual, interesting characters.
The Lake of Darkness was filled with just such individuals.
Narrator David Suchet did ok.
Small amount of Adult and Foul language.
Dec 09, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin Urban, a square 28-year-old accountant, wins 100,000 pounds in the football pools thanks to the picks from his attractively louche friend Tim. Martin plans to use the windfall to play Lord Bountiful, bestowing gifts upon strangers to assist them with housing woes (any housing woes his friend Tim might have don't factor into Martin's decision; he neglects to mention the win to Tim).

Meanwhile, Finn is up to no good, again. This time he's been asked to knock off a tenant so her greedy landl
Martine Bailey
Another gripping and fantastical novel by the much lamented late Ruth Rendell. I'm not sure we actually learn which era this is set in, but there are indications it is the 1970s, a time Rendell appears to have found morally fascinating. Martin is a middle class fool who naively plans to give away some of his football pools winnings, only to become accidentally enmeshed with psychopathic handy man, Finn. It is difficult to say who comes off worse, the amoral hunter or the torpid, tax avoiding mid ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another of Rendell's very dark psychological thrillers based on seemingly innocent actions by an unsuspecting and basically naive person. In this case, it is an accountant who fits the stereotype of that profession. He wins 100,000 pounds in the football pools and decides to use it to help people that he doesn't know find appropriate housing. To say that this is a mistake is putting it mildly as his path crosses with a grasping female who is not what she appears, an old friend who challenges his ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Average Ruth Rendell is better than most writers at their apex.

I will say however that this tale of what happens to a man who unexpectedly comes into a financial windfall is one of Rendell's weakest books.

She appears to be channeling her inner O. Henry. The book is too melodramatic. There are too many convenient coincidences to drive the plot along.

What I disliked the most, however, is a testament to Rendell's skill as an author. All of the characters are so unpleasant. I could not find any to
Jim Jones
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's nearly always a pleasure to enter Ruth Rendell's dark and amoral London. Everyone has a past, everyone does bad things, everyone pays for it. Everyone is scheming for money or property or the perfect kill. If you've read any of her books, you know what you are getting into, but you willingly go back again and again. She is not so much a mystery writer as an explorer to the darkest parts of the human soul.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an odd little book. The premise is interesting and Rendell has created a cast of quirky nuts to fit into her odd little story.
Shane Plassenthal
One of my personal favorite books. This is the first novel that I read by Ruth Rendell and what I consider her very best (yes, even above the Barbara Vine novels, although 'A Dark Adapted Eye' comes in as a close second). In this book, Rendell showcases her penchant for describing the mentally ill and the quiet desperation in the lives of the average person as their fates intersect in the most interesting and odd of ways. One thing I love about this book is the huge twist in the middle that hits ...more
Cameron Trost
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Yet another astounding novel from Ruth Rendell. The characters followed (or perhaps "stalked" is a more appropriate word) in this tale are so very different from each other and yet their worlds become so fatefully entangled. Without giving anything away, what is bound to happen doesn't come as a surprise - at least, the general direction of the plot seemed quite obvious to me. What really makes this tale one of her best is the chilling way in which the inescapable chain of events is presented to ...more
Oct 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I am just a bit aghast that I am not finsihing a Rendell book. Shecan usually entice me with her disturbing characters, bt not this time. The two primary protagonists ae just too twisted for my taste right now. One is likely schizophrenic, raised by hsi mentally ill mother, and the other is a sad, self-effacing guy who falls in love and begins to hav an affair with a married woman. Perhaps I'm jus tnot in the mood for this, and will give it another go later. The strong presence of a mentally ill ...more
Kathleen O'Nan
Ruth Rendell does it again! Another fun, dark-ish mystery that I enjoyed thoroughly. Probably the most enjoyable aspect was the confusion between the 2 main characters, each thinking the one wanted something other than they did. A classic, rough and tumble sociopathic murderer for hire and a classic bumbling accountant turned do-gooder can't help but fail to understand each other, lol!
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bumbling accountant, an effective but simpleton killer, and repressed homosexuality combine to make this occasionally preposterous crime novel an amusing ride. Perhaps the most fairy-tale-ish of the two dozen Rendell books I've read.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She is so good at interweaving flawed and often despicable people and making it creepily believable.
John Toffee
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of british thrillers
In Ruth Rendell's stand alone thriller Martin Urban a young single accountant leading a very lonely life with very little female interaction finds himself rich after winning the football pools, all good so far. Then comes the next bit, which I have trouble with, he decides to give most of it away. The recipients will be mainly old people living in poor housing/conditions with the condition that they live outside of London where the prices are lower enabling to help more people.
Whilst Martin trie
At first I thought it was a bit boring. Martin Urban has won a lot of money and he decides to give about half of it away to people who can use it to buy a new house. However, this was not the main storyline of the book, which surprised me a bit. The story focuses more on Martin getting to know Francesca and getting into a relationship with her. But something is wrong and you realise it quite quickly, although Rendell does not give anything away yet.
At some point I got into the story and I wanted
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martin, a bachelor, becomes interested in a woman who works in a flower shop. She never wants Martin to drive her home, preferring to take a taxi. Other things about her slowly occur that make him wonder about her. Could she be married? Does she have another boyfriend?
When Martin wins a sizeable amount of money off of a lottery, he decides to give some away to people who could benefit from having nicer places to live. One of those people is Finn's mother, a woman with mental illness problems. Fi
Martin Urban is a young accountant leading the comfortable though somewhat dull life of a bachelor. Unexpectedly he wins a very large sum of money in a football pool (104,754 pounds 46 pence), but he decides to give half the money away to the poor. Then Francesca enters into his life, a mysterious young woman who captures his heart. And when he meets Finn, the twisted son of his mother's cleaning lady, the good intentions of Martin become fatally entangled with the macabre madness of Finn, with ...more
Another good psychological thriller of the kind I've come to expect from Rendell. I always enjoy the way that the characters link up & the way that events are misconstrued. All in all an entertaining read. ...more
Sandra Gornall
The audiobook narrator did good work with this - "Well, well."
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book.

The storyline was very interesting but at times it was hard to follow the characters. I would recommend this book
Sally Wagley
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ruth rendell, as always, a shrewd observer of human frailty, focusing as she frequently does) on a character with confused sexual orientation
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read!
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Mansfield Public ...: The"The Lake of Darkness" review by Janine O'Toole 1 3 Jul 17, 2014 04:50PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Blood Doctor
  • The Minotaur
  • A Dark-Adapted Eye
  • Grasshopper
  • King Solomon's Carpet
  • The Chimney Sweeper's Boy
  • The Coffin Trail (Lake District Mystery #1)
  • The Cipher Garden (Lake District Mystery #2)
  • No Night is Too Long
  • The House of Stairs
  • The Black Tower (Adam Dalgliesh #5)
  • Gallowglass
  • The Brimstone Wedding
  • Death in Ecstasy (Roderick Alleyn, #4)
  • Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh #1)
  • Fox Evil
  • A Fatal Inversion
  • Apeirogon
See similar books…
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.

Related Articles

Looking to cozy up with a thrilling novel this winter? Consider The Silent Patient , the debut from Alex Michaelides. But don’t take our word...
159 likes · 57 comments