Collected Short Stories by Ruth Rendell - review by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Take One Before Bedtime

Collected Short Stories

By

Hutchinson 536pp £12.95 order from our bookshop
 

So: how does she think of them? This fat book is made up of four smaller collections, spanning nine years of writing; each story nasty, brutish and short, each displaying a pat familiarity with the baser passions, each tightly, tritely organised, and most ending in murder; most cocooned in a sort of rotten gentility, like a cadaver wrapped in a net curtain. How does she think of them, and why, like the perfect poison, do they slip down so easily?

The characters are young couples in restaurants, businessmen who entertain clients in their home, young professionals in their single-person households. When the author steps outside the middle classes, she employs a perfunctory psychological shorthand: 'his drunken savage father, his mother who'd cared only for men and having a good time,

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