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Barbara Vine was the pen-name of Ruth Rendell, and Viking published all of her books under that name. Rendell was an exceptional crime writer, with worldwide sales of approximately 20 million copies, and regular Sunday Times bestsellers. Rendell won numerous awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View, a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986, and the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990. In 2013 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer. Ruth Rendell died in May 2015.
Once again writing as Vine (The Blood Doctor), acclaimed mystery writer Ruth Rendell hones in on the mysteries of the psyche. In this novel, set in the late 1960s, an autistic man, a dysfunctional family, and an innocent young woman become entangled in a web of deceit. Swedish nursing student Kerstin Kvist comes to Essex, England, to care for 39-year-old John Cosway, who is being heavily sedated for a mental illness he doesn't actually have. John's mother and sisters live with him on a drafty estate at the mercy of a trust. Naturally inquisitive, Kerstin wants to explore the bizarre, labyrinthine library built on the estate but ends up coming across secrets best left hidden. When John quits his medication (with Kerstin's approval), it means trouble for all involved. A layered, intriguing tale with odd, almost caricatured characters and subtle twists, Vine's latest book rambles a bit toward an ending that's not particularly suspenseful. Still, fans will want to read it. For most public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/05.]-Rebecca Vnuk, River Forest P.L., IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
'The reader is kept in suspense throughout... vintage wine from the Rendell vine' Independent 'The Cosway family is a mesmerizing creation... I rushed through the last pages' - Penelope Lively, Sunday Times 'Stealthy, credible, ingenious and addictive' Literary Review
British master Vine (aka Ruth Rendell) explores life among the Cosways, a country gentry clan that makes the Wuthering Heights crowd look wholesome. Kerstin Kvist, a young Swedish nurse, takes a job at Lydstep Old Hall caring for John Cosway, a mathematical prodigy now labeled by his family as schizophrenic. In addition to John, there are four obsessive sisters ruled by their scarecrow-like matriarch. Gradually, Kerstin suspects that John is being drugged so that his mother and sisters can remain in their estate under the terms of a disputed trust. Vine creates a family and village, Windrose, so vivid you're tempted to book a B and B and investigate things yourself. Some scenes involving John's behavior-his fits and his family's reactions-seem abrupt to the point of being bizarre, but Vine is describing a man hijacked from rationality, through a narrator whose first language isn't English. When murder finally happens, it's simultaneously shocking yet inevitable. Though less elegantly written than 2002's The Blood Doctor, this delivers a more palpable, and thus satisfying, crime. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.