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Library Journal Review
Carl Martin, an aspiring writer, has inherited a house from his father, and life is going well for him until he decides to rent some upstairs rooms to Dermot McKinnon for some extra income. When a friend dies from an overdose of diet pills that Carl had sold from his father's stash, Dermot learns of Carl's role in the tragedy and blackmails him into giving him free use of the rental rooms. Carl's mental state spirals into an obsession that gains control over his life and governs every action. Verdict The Edgar Award-winning author (The Girl Next Door) died this past May, so this could be her last hurrah. It is a tale of psychological suspense that is as engrossing as any of her other excellent works. Fans of mystery and suspense will appreciate Rendell's unequaled ability to portray an average person's descent into a psychological quagmire. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/15.]-Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
MWA Grand Master Rendell (1930-2015) often explored the lives of the luckless who are dogged by disastrous coincidence. In this, her final book, writer Carl Martin is one such hapless fellow. Carl inherits a choice townhouse in London's chic Maida Vale neighborhood. He's cash-poor while pounding out his second novel, so he rents the upper floor to a predatory tenant, Dermot McKinnon. A pious icicle, Dermot believes that Carl's stock of homeopathic medicines may have figured in the death of a friend of Carl's, 24-year-old TV actress Stacey Warren. Soon, Carl is fending off two blackmailers. As always in Rendell's work, the thoughtless and obtuse sow chaos for the careful and sensitive, and London shines as a strong presence. This is a beguiling, powerful novel, made poignant by the staggering realization that this is the last of a feast of characters and narratives. Everything that makes Rendell's work so memorable-gothic but believable people and plots, simple yet vivid prose, peerlessly rendered settings, and fear and despair as the twin "parents" of violence-is in evidence here. Readers may sigh along with one of the characters, when, in the last sentence, he remarks, "And now, now it's all over." Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Rendell, who died earlier this year, has left this stand-alone psychological thriller to add to her considerable legacy of 27 stand-alones, 24 Inspector Wexford procedurals, and 14 mysteries written as Barbara Vine. This is a worthy addition to the canon. In it, Rendell once again exhumes the depths of obsession and traces each step in a sympathetic character's downward spiral. It has both a mythic element all the trouble starts with a box that shouldn't have been opened and a Victorian bent, in that it features an inheritance that dooms the recipient. The main character, Carl Martin, a promising mystery writer who is strapped for cash, inherits a house in London from his father and decides to rent out the top floor. He also decides to keep his father's cabinet of homeopathic remedies. Enter a strange, lonely upstairs lodger. Also enter one of Carl's friends, a woman who is on the brink of losing her TV career because of weight gain. Carl sells his friend some of his father's diet pills, and the friend is found dead a few days later. The lodger's blackmailing and Carl's unraveling follow. This is stunningly suspenseful and often downright creepy.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2015 Booklist