Imagine writing this well at 85! There’s inspiration.
In Dark Corners, Carl Martin, a young debut novelist, pressed for cash, makes two big mistakes. He takes in the first tenant who applies to his ad and sells a friend some diet pills from a stash of meds inherited from his father. The result is blackmail, leading to Carl’s increasing desperation and decline.
In her final novel, Rendell followed a motif that characterized her recent work – a London neighborhood with an ensemble of locals whose stories interweave around a crime. No Rendell novel would be complete without a precariously balanced protagonist who tumbles off the precipice. But what a treat to see how the other characters fit into the mix, witting and unwitting participants in the central drama.
Rendell left an amazing legacy, a trove for those who have yet to discover her. I will probably work backwards from Dark Corners, rereading and reminding myself what great thrillers are made of.
Hail and farewell, Ruth Rendell.