The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell)

Arlene Almas (03/03/13): Ruth Rendell is my favorite mystery writer. Using the pen name Barbara Vine, Rendell has written a masterful mystery in which murder is only tangentially related to the story, and all the violence is emotional. The sudden death of Gerald Candless, a world-famous best-selling author, has major repercussions for the wife he constantly disparaged and the two daughters he adored. His publisher persuades one of the daughters, Sarah, to write a memoir focusing primarily on her illustrious father. To her shock and horror, her research reveals an earth-shattering secret that her father has kept from the world for virtually his entire professional life. As more and more of Gerald’s background is uncovered, Sarah, along with her mother Ursula and sister Hope, eventually gain a deep understanding of their father’s/husband’s treatment of them as well as of many other aspects of his life. Along the way, we learn a great deal about Sarah and Ursula both before and after Gerald’s death, and how his vastly different behavior towards his wife and daughters, almost defying explanation, affected the course of their lives. But explanation there is, and the author doles it out to us bit by suspenseful bit. As always, Rendell’s writing is superb – I think I would read anything by her!
Rating: *****

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