This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Careful, there will be spoilers to the whole tone of the book Better to read it cold Readers build expectations of plot development based on things like genre of publication, how many pages are left to the ending, even book cover and of course blurb Ruth Rendell, in her earlier books broke a lot of these rules of what a mystery or thriller is The best example is the justly famous A Judgment in Stone, where we are told on the very first sentence who did what to whom, when and why, breaking wh Careful, there will be spoilers to the whole tone of the book Better to read it cold Readers build expectations of plot development based on things like genre of publication, how many pages are left to the ending, even book cover and of course blurb Ruth Rendell, in her earlier books broke a lot of these rules of what a mystery or thriller is The best example is the justly famous A Judgment in Stone, where we are told on the very first sentence who did what to whom, when and why, breaking what is probably the ultimate rule of the mystery genre This is muchquietly revolutionary, but it seemed revolutionary to me, and also satirical of genre expectactions She fooled me completely by having me project the stereotypes I expected into and then following real world probabilities after all She wrote greater novels, but this one has got a special place in my memory and affections for being so quietly twisted and making me self analyze what I expect of what book Update 4 Sept 2019 Someone tells me I read this a year ago In theory, I agree As usual my review gives me no clue as to what I read Who thinks I should reread Or accept one Rendell bleeds into the next, even when I 4 star it Ok, re listen it is I ve drunk the Rendell Vine well dry back to the start But Wexford can stay in the grave he dug for himself A man may smile and murder while he smiles A clever concept, and if you can get past the 1960s sexism, a well execut Update 4 Sept 2019 Someone tells me I read this a year ago In theory, I agree As usual my review gives me no clue as to what I read Who thinks I should reread Or accept one Rendell bleeds into the next, even when I 4 star it Ok, re listen it is I ve drunk the Rendell Vine well dry back to the start But Wexford can stay in the grave he dug for himself A man may smile and murder while he smiles A clever concept, and if you can get past the 1960s sexism, a well executed mystery Quite different from Rendell s usual who dunnit.But seriously, view spoiler a woman is allowed to marry a younger man, even when she s an ancient spinster at 38 And I cannot believe that no one would work out Alice was pregnant Even if her doctor is that dense, her sister in law would have suggested it hide spoiler Wealthy Alice Whittaker now Alice Fielding is known for her generosity, and when her friend Nesta vanishes Alice is determined to find her and help her If that means money, well, Alice has plenty of itThen Alice starts to feel sick a virus perhaps, something she just can t shake Her handsome husband, who is ten years younger than she is, seems determined to keep her at home Does he just want her to feel better Or is he trying to keep her from finding Nesta Ill though she is, Alice can t help asking questions And the she learns about Nesta s disappearance, the certain she becomes that her own life is in peril Not the best Rendell I have read The ending was a bit of a letdown Alice Whittaker is 37, wealthy but a bit plain and has no career She see s her life as a failure except that she is rich Along comes schoolteacher Andrew Fielding, handsome and fixated about Anthony Trollope novels He is 9 years younger than her and they marry Her best friend came into her life Nesta, disappears and she goes in search of her discovering that her brother, uncle, husband and doctor all have motives to murder Not the best Rendell I have read The ending was a bit of a letdown Alice Whittaker is 37, wealthy but a bit plain and has no career She see s her life as a failure except that she is rich Along comes schoolteacher Andrew Fielding, handsome and fixated about Anthony Trollope novels He is 9 years younger than her and they marry Her best friend came into her life Nesta, disappears and she goes in search of her discovering that her brother, uncle, husband and doctor all have motives to murder her She also suddenly becomes ill and increasingly paranoid that someone is poisoning her The ending reveals all and a bit dull Basically everyone lives happily ever after A very good gothic novel Alice s friend Nesta has seemed to have disappeared Alice is trying to find her after she moved away, first going to the address she had for her and finding it did not exist then tracking her to boarding place in London In the meantime, Alice is beginning to feel ill frequently with nausea and begins to suspect someone is poisoning her Although the first half of the novel is kind of slow, the suspense building as we seeof what Alice imagines in the second half A very good gothic novel Alice s friend Nesta has seemed to have disappeared Alice is trying to find her after she moved away, first going to the address she had for her and finding it did not exist then tracking her to boarding place in London In the meantime, Alice is beginning to feel ill frequently with nausea and begins to suspect someone is poisoning her Although the first half of the novel is kind of slow, the suspense building as we seeof what Alice imagines in the second half made the book enjoyable Originally published on my blog here in July 1999.In general, Ruth Rendell s Wexford novels are better than the others Vanity Dies Hard is an exception to this It is perhaps rather over extended, a problem that frequently seems to afflict Rendell it is too much a one idea piece of work to be a top class novel However, it is gripping, and the idea is very interesting, an unusual variation on the woman s fears that something strange is going on are dismissed as hysterical theme.Alice Whittak Originally published on my blog here in July 1999.In general, Ruth Rendell s Wexford novels are better than the others Vanity Dies Hard is an exception to this It is perhaps rather over extended, a problem that frequently seems to afflict Rendell it is too much a one idea piece of work to be a top class novel However, it is gripping, and the idea is very interesting, an unusual variation on the woman s fears that something strange is going on are dismissed as hysterical theme.Alice Whittaker is rich and beautiful, recently married to a younger man, but still terribly insecure Her close friend Nesta Drage has recently moved away, but the letters received from her are strange and type written a skill Nesta does not possess Sensing something wrong, Alice goes in search of Nesta, only to discover that her letters have been going to a non existent address This makes the fact that she received replies to them seem really strange, and prompts further investigation When Alice begins to be sick after every meal, she becomes convinced that Nesta was poisoned, and that her murderer is now poisoning Alice s own food.Since all this is familiar territory for the thriller genre it is the ending which is unusual about this story it could be sketched in farquickly with at least equal effectiveness Rendell introduces episode after episode to increase our belief that Alice is indeed hysterical, but that on the other hand something is going on The writing is skilful enough that negative reactions only occur on reflection by the reader While actually reading the novel, you are drawn in The fact that the book is over extended, and the subsidiary faults which make this the case Alice is a little too hysterical to be believable, the sequence of events which convince her that someone is trying to kill her a little too fantastic are only obvious later Fun to read but a little odd and very outdated I can now understand why it was difficult to buy Could only find it secondhand in a triple book from 1993 I am reading her books in order and this was one of the few I had never read If you want proof that feminism has changed the world give this one a read. I bought this from the dollar shelf at the used book store, and it was definitely a dollar s worth of entertainment, though notIt was a gag book Rendell sets up a load of tension just to let the air out of the whole lot in the last twenty pages But for a dollar on a gloomy afternoon, it was fine. I listened to the e book it was narrated verbatim by Eva Haddon, and quite competently, I thought.I was immediately intrigued by the opening chapter, in which Alice, the rather dowdy protagonist, travels to a small country town to visit a former neighbour, glamorous Nesta, only to find that the address via which they have been corresponding does not exist.Alice is a wealthy heiress her family owns and runs the firm for which her husband, ten years her junior, now works As Alice begins to sear I listened to the e book it was narrated verbatim by Eva Haddon, and quite competently, I thought.I was immediately intrigued by the opening chapter, in which Alice, the rather dowdy protagonist, travels to a small country town to visit a former neighbour, glamorous Nesta, only to find that the address via which they have been corresponding does not exist.Alice is a wealthy heiress her family owns and runs the firm for which her husband, ten years her junior, now works As Alice begins to search for Nesta she appears to become progressively unwell Tensions develop amongst her circle of male acquaintances, guardians and advisors.Alice begins to imagine that Nesta has met with some sinister fate, and that the perpetrator might be behind her own illness but in whom can she confide There is evidence to suggest that any one of husband Andrew, brother Hugo, uncle Justin, old flame and GP Harry and even local businessman, Mr Feast might have had dallied with the flamboyant Nesta.The suspense is maintained throughout, and Ruth Rendell employs her mystery writing skills to hold back both climax and denouement until close to the end.Recommended DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE AND HER PEERSBOOK 66 1966Some books are indeed written as part of a contract to deliver X amount of words books This must be one of them.CAST 1 star Alice is a late thirties, wealthy, semi attractive woman She snags Andrew, a guy nine years younger, very handsome but with no money He likes to lay around and read She likes to give him giftslike a sports car, just little things like that Nesta is Alice s friend who has disappeared Nesta is rather fat and looks s DAME AGATHA CHRISTIE AND HER PEERSBOOK 66 1966Some books are indeed written as part of a contract to deliver X amount of words books This must be one of them.CAST 1 star Alice is a late thirties, wealthy, semi attractive woman She snags Andrew, a guy nine years younger, very handsome but with no money He likes to lay around and read She likes to give him giftslike a sports car, just little things like that Nesta is Alice s friend who has disappeared Nesta is rather fat and looks sick But Alice thinks Andrew is hot for Nesta I kid you not Andrew likes the And Andrew does like to read Trollope, so there is that as a plus The local doctor keeps saying to Alice, No, you are just and then says, Alice, you are simply and then, But Alice, listen to me, it s only But someone always interupts him ATMOSPHERE 2 Alice lives in a massive old house that s a bit creepy She hears repetitive clacking Is it a typewriter composing fake love letters from Andrew to Nesta No, but Alice has the brains of a doorknob And old, filthy doorknob from, say, the dark ages of 1960 s decor.CRIME Minus 1 star Ah,.ummm.I don t know Is the youghurt poisoned INVESTIGATION Alice refuses to get the cops involved to find Nesta why Cause she, Alice, thinks the cops will think she is silly The cops are right Alice runs around in the dark for a while during a stormand THEN RESOLUTION 1 star Yea, right As if we re supposed to think Andrew is straight and madly in loveSUMMARY 1.0 stars This is one of the worst mysteries I ve ever read It s just silly, and not in a fun way Rendell must have had this one boxed up in a cellar, never to be published But if you MUST read this at gunpoint, go ahead Otherwise, no, no, no Alice is, of course, pregnant I assume the word must have been prohibited in England in 1966 Or something