Monday, March 5, 2012

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy (1998)

Ruth Rendell, writing here under her pseudonym Barbara Vine, has many admirable skills, foremost of which is the ability to write entire novels populated with essentially unlikable characters. It's no small feat, and it allows her to write these gripping, sordid family histories (usually as Vine), such as this one, in which the secrets of a dead novelist are uncovered by his grown daughter, a budding alcoholic and agoraphobe. This is one cold book but sometimes cold books provide their own kind of comfort. I think this one goes on a little too long, piling up the red herrings, but it's a small flaw in an otherwise excellent novel.

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