RUTH RENDELL – A Demon in My View. Doubleday, hardcover, 1977. Paperback reprints include: Bantam, 1979; Black Lizard/Vintage, 2000. First published in the UK: Hutchinson, 1976. Arrow, UK, pb, 1980 (shown).  Film: First City, 1992, with Anthony Perkins, Uwe Bohm, & Sophie Ward. Screenplay & director: Petra Haffter.

RUTH RENDELL A Demon in My View

   The upstairs boarder at 142 Trinity Road is a quiet prissy man with a secret, a plastic mannequin in the cellar. When the compulsion becomes too great, the mannequin dies. Routine is disturbed, however, when a new roomer moves in, into the flat with a view of the cellar door.

   It’s like watching a house of cards cave in, one card at a time. Precisely, methodically Arthur Johnson’s crisis is developed into a private catastrophe, one that spreads its evil as it grows.

   Rendell is truly the fine writer people have been telling me she is. From a first chapter that seems to have only short story possibilities she fills a novel filled with convincing characters whose lives interwearve with fascinating accuracy.

   As a result the ending may seem at first unsuitably melodramatic. But at the next instant the realization comes that it has just snapped into place like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, or the jaws of a gigantic self-made trap.

   Don’t put off reading Rendell as long as I have.

— From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1977.
        (This review appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.)

[UPDATE] 10-24-10.   This could easily be the earliest of my reviews that I’ve posted on this blog. It was written over 33 years ago, or nearly half a lifetime, and in all honesty, I can’t say that my writing style has changed any.

   Do I remember the book? I can’t say that I do, even though I gave it an “A Plus” at the time. I also can’t say that I’ve followed my own advice and have read much of Ruth Rendell’s work since that time. If I have, I’m sure that most of what I’ve read has been from her Inspector Wexford series.

   When I could not find a copy of the cover of the Doubleday edition to show you, I thought the British paperback that I did find was both the most colorful and pictorially representative the story inside.

   I did not know there a film made of this movie until 20 minutes ago. Re-reading my review again, why am I not surprised to learn that Tony Perkins was chosen to play the leading role?