Ruth Rendell died today. She was not only my favorite crime novelist, she was also the writer who inspired me to pick up a pen. I’m still on blog sabbatical, but in memory of—and in gratitude to—Lady Rendell, I’m reposting one of my A to Z posts from several years ago.

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R is for Reading Ruth Rendell, because if you enjoy psychological suspense, you really, really should.

… read Ruth Rendell, I mean.

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“Some say life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ~Ruth Rendell

British crime novelist, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine/Baroness Rendell of Babergh CBE, has long been my favorite mystery writer. It all started decades ago when I picked up a copy of Rendell’s novel, THE BRIDESMAID. THE BRIDESMAID not only changed the way I viewed mysteries, it inspired me to write. If you’re interested, you can read my review of THE BRIDESMAID here.

Yes, it’s true Lady Rendell writes the Inspector Wexford series, but my heart resides not with her procedurals, but with her standalones. These books inevitably zero in on a clash between society and the individual. Not just any individual, either, but an individual driven by internal or external forces into socially unacceptable behavior. Deviants, my friends. Ruth Rendell writes about deviants. Even more tantalizing? She takes you into their tangled psyches without ever once letting down her social conscious.

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“I try, and I think I succeed, in making my readers feel sorry for my psychopaths, because I do.” ~Ruth Rendell

Don’t expect a happy ending. A twist, something that stays with you for days, even years, after you’ve flipped the book closed or turned off your Kindle, yes. But happily ever afters? Not so much.

Until the advent of Amazon UK, life for an American Ruth Rendell fan was not easy. It could take as long as a year and half for her latest to make it to this side of the Pond. Today, Americans willing to pay exorbitant international shipping, can easily access the Baroness’s work hot off the presses. But why bother? Lady Rendell has dozens of impeccably crafted mysteries and psychological thrillers waiting on library shelves for anyone looking for a unique, intelligent read. Might that be you?

Novelist Patrick Gale said it best:

Ruth Rendell writes about people as coolly as a behaviourist observing the effects of fear or pain on laboratory rats. Because she does not care, the reader does not have to, and the effect is oddly liberating. Rendell’s works pitch the reader into an amoral universe where there is no salvation, spiritual or aesthetic. Rather than rout evil, she merely has it eat itself… and the tidiness of her endings unsettles even as it satisfies, because it carries no consolation in its wake.

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Rest in peace, Lady Rendell.

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