TigerLily’s Orchids

I had delayed reading this latest novel by Ruth Rendell because of my slight dissatisfaction with the Barbara Vine but once I started it yesterday I was gripped as always by her depiction of ordinary people seemingly leading ordinary lives in suburban London but contriving to be players in an unfolding mystery drama whose outcome continued to surprise until the final few pages.

Indeed I was genuinely surprised by the outcome which crept up in those final pages when I had begun to feel that we would only have conjecture on the murder of the young central character, Font, leaving us tantalizingly to speculate.

This was simply a good read, always perceptive about the way people live and react and creating a host of characters centred on a set of flats, Lichfield House. The lonely old drunk, drinking herself to death, the ancient hippies re-discovering each other, the failed medical practitioner, the paedophile caretaker, (is the caretaker becoming the stereotype job for a paedophile?) the old man, Duncan, observing life and letting it pass him by but finding himself, reluctantly maybe, at the centre of everything as the drama unfolds. All the characters come to life and we are led through the twist and turns of their lives with calm and the usual Rendell authority.

I have said before that I don’t read Rendell’s Wexford books but have always enjoyed it when she undertakes these one-off crime mysteries, often set in London, in anonymous streets where thousands live their lives. Thanks again for a great relaxing story as I seek diversion from my increasingly frustrated impasse at my lack of access to the Man Asian Literary Prize long list.

I am waiting on three books arriving through the post, Amazon and the HK post service permitting, but my search for the other five remains a frustrating one. Tried another bookshop yesterday and though she checked diligently on whether she has them in stock the computer said no!!

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