Sunday, September 25, 2005

Books: Make Death Love Me // Ruth Rendell

Genre: Psychological suspense
Published: 1979
Verdict: &&&

If anyone can make death love her, it's Ruth Rendell. In novel after novel, she creates characters flawed in the most fascinating ways and makes the reader root for them even as they kill someone or do some other despicable deed. In Make Death Love Me, a bored small-town bank manager is in the back of his branch when a couple of thugs who think he is out to lunch come in to rob and kidnap the solitary teller. In that horrified moment when most people would hit the panic button to summon help, he instead takes from the vault 3,000 pounds and flees out the back. He had, on many occasions, taken out the money in private and handled it "with the kind of breathless excitement many people feel about sex – or so he supposed, he never had himself …" In the diverging threads that follow, our runaway banker explores the vicarious life, falling in love while building lie upon lie, and the author has fun making the captive bank teller a tormentor of her captors until all comes full circle in a classic Rendellian calamity. Even if it doesn't have the rich complexity of a later masterpiece like Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, this 19th Rendell novel – she's now up to 59 books, counting her short story collections and pseudonymous Barbara Vine novels – is a satisfying yarn with flawed people making flawed decisions in a most entertaining fashion.

// Next books //
The Ignored • Bentley Little (1997)
13 Steps Down • Ruth Rendell (2005)

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