The House of Stairs - an unputdownable crime classic from bestselling author Barbara Vine
Lizzie hasn't seen her old friend, Bell, for some fourteen years, but when she spots her from a taxi in a London street she jumps out and pursues her despite 'all the terrible things' that passed between them. As Lizzie reveals those events, little by little, the women rekindle their friendship, with terrifying results ...
'This is the third psychological thriller by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine and when I say it surpasses the first two that's really saying something ... Vine has not only produced a quietly smouldering suspense novel but also presents an accurately atmospheric portrayal of London in the heady 60's. Literally unputdownable' Time Out
The House of Stairs is a modern masterpiece of the crime genre and will leave you gripped from the first page to the last. If you enjoy the novels of P.D. James, Ian Rankin and Scott Turow, you will love this book.
'The Rendell/ Vine partnership has for years been producing consistently better work than most Booker winners put together' Ian Rankin
'A superb and original writer' Amanda Craig, Express
Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. She has written fifteen novels using this pseudonym, including A Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet which both won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Her other books include: A Dark Adapted Eye; The House of Stairs; Gallowglass; Asta's Book; No Night Is Too Long; In the Time of His Prosperity; The Brimstone Wedding; The Chimney Sweeper's Boy; Grasshopper; The Blood Doctor; The Minotaur; The Birthday Present and The Child's Child.
Writing as Barbara Vine ( A Dark-Adapted Eye ), Ruth Rendell adds dark, psychological elements to her novels that elude easy categorization as straightforward mysteries. Early on here, she establishes a knot of unknowns: Who is the sad, reflective narrator and what illness might she have? What hold does the tall dark woman called Bell have on her, and what happened at the carefully described House of Stairs in London that sent Bell to prison? The answers are revealed as gradually as an intricate knot is untied. The narrator is middle-aged novelist Elizabeth Vetch who, since she learned of her grim heritage at age 14, has lived under the threat of inheriting fatal Huntington's chorea, which she refers to as ``the terror and the bore.'' Years before, in the late '60s and early '70s, she and Bell and a roster of other beautifully realized people lived in the House of Stairs, owned by Elizabeth's recently widowed, newly Bohemian aunt Cosette. The tale begins when Elizabeth sights Bell in the street and, being as drawn to the woman as she had been before, feels compelled to understand her own reawakened emotion as well as the events that accompanied their parting and caused both Cosette and Elizabeth untold pain. With specific references to its underpinning of Henry James's The Wings of A Dove , Rendell's story is dark and portentous, overly so in the early part, where ominous and significant references drag the action. But soon Elizabeth, with her uncertain future and brave effort to pin down her painful past, takes over. She is, in the end, along with the considerably satisfying mystery connecting those who lived at the House of Stairs, profoundly memorable.