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Adam and Eve and Pinch Me





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About the book:

In Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, Ruth Rendell once again tackles the dark and dangerous side of human psychology. It is this quality that defines her as a writer and distinguishes her from the other British Queens of Crime: PD James and Minette Walters (although some would argue that Val McDermid is now in that category). She take the reader into a more sinister and threatening world than any of her contemporaries, and there is a reason why she remains non-pareil in this territory: a reason demonstrated with disturbing impact in Adam and Eve and Pinch Me.

Rendell's speciality is her ability to enter the psychopathology of her characters and make us not only understand their often murderous behaviour, but also vicariously participate. It's a skill that Hitchcock made his own in the cinema, but he rarely moved into such black waters as Rendell. This new book continues a trend initiated in earlier work by Rendell: the grafting of supernatural elements into a typical Rendellian tale of menace. And what makes the ghost in the new book so disturbing is the total avoidance of cliché: no grey, wispy phantom, this--it is disturbingly corporeal.

Jock Lewis died in the Paddington train crash. Or did he? His fiancée Minty is coming to terms with both his loss and the loss of all her savings, which Jock vanished with. And there is Zilla, who had been married to a man called Jerry Leach. She also received a letter from the railway company telling her that her husband is dead. Other women, too, who do not know each other, have all had relationships with a dark-haired man who disappears from their lives. And when Jock's ghost reappears to Minty at her home and at her work, she begins to carry a knife... but if she stabs him, will he bleed?

Rendell has always been a writer who likes to take risks, and the danger here was that Adam and Eve and Pinch Me would end up as a smorgasbord of supernatural and crime elements, each cancelling the other out. But Rendell is far too assured a writer for this, and the balance between the different aspects of the book is always kept rigorously in place. So many writers fall into dull repetition; here, again, Rendell demonstrates that she's going from strength to strength. --Barry Forshaw

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