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A Judgement in Stone Paperback – January 4, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Published in 1976 and 1977, respectively, these are fairly typical of Rendell's popular psychological thrillers. Demon presents a researcher studying psychopathic personalities who doesn't recognize that his seemingly shy, harmless neighbor is a total nut job. Judgement finds a police investigator trying to discern why a housekeeper slaughters her employer's entire family on Valentine's Day.
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Review

"A classic."-The Times (London)

"Rendell writes with such elegance and restraint, with such literary voice and an insightful mind, that she transcends the mystery genre and achieves something almost sublime."-Los Angeles Times

"It will be an amazing achievement if [Rendell] ever writes a better book."- Daily Express (London)

"Ruth Rendell is the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world."- Time
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition (January 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375704965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704963
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A JUDGEMENT IN STONE is a fairly short novel, like most ofRendell's early works, but it hardly requires length to justify itselfas a superb novel that succeeds on so many levels. Written in the sharp, perceptive, and engaging style that is Rendell's own, the book weaves the story of Eunice Parchman, an illiterate woman who becomes employed as a housekeeper to the wealthy Coverdales.
Once more, Rendell shows readers and critics that she can create an intricately crafted story with surprising twists and turns...She spins out all the elements of the plot seamlessly and incisively, giving us a convincing picture...
As usual, the characters are well-drawn, totally realistic and believable yet with their own individual quirks and personalities. The character of Eunice Parchman is best done of all. Eunice manages to draw sympathy for her plight, while simultaneously chilling the reader with her blank, cold-blooded apathy. She is possibly one of Rendell's most mystifying and intriguing creations, and would alone make this novel worth reading. But Rendell has added wit, suspense, mystery, a clever plot, and confident characterizations to create one of her finest novels. A JUDGEMENT IN STONE is not at all easy to locate, but if you find it, even an old copy, definitely read it. This is vintage Rendell.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of Ruth Rendell's earlier works and, perhaps, one of her best. More of a novella, rather than a full fledged novel, by virtue of its brevity, it is absolutely brilliant, well-written, and gripping from the get go. Ms. Rendell captures the reader with her first sentence, "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write."

This is a descriptive and insightful literary stunner about how an illiterate, middle aged women gets to the point that she wipes out an enire family one fateful evening. The book takes the reader, step by step, through the events that lead up to this crossroad. It explores the mind of Eunice Parchman, a woman so limited in her world view and so robotic in her actions that she is almost repellent. The reader marvels at her very existence and is sure to find her a fascinating character study.

Ms. Parchman's interactions with the well-educated Coverdale family, who employs her as a housekeeper, are intriguing and always interesting, as she struggles to keep her illiteracy a secret. How Ms. Parchman circumvents its discovery for as long as does, the lengths to which she goes to maintain a facade of literacy, and her socially inappropriate responses to every day situations, paint an intriguing psychological portrait for the reader. The eventual discovery of her illiteracy results in a ghastly outcome, which makes for some gripping and chilling reading.

Ms. Rendell is masterful in her storytelling, infusing mundane situations with an understated horror that is all the more chilling because of the common denominator that strikes a chord with the reader. Written is well-nuanced, taut, spare style, this book is a literary gem that will keep the reader riveted to its pages. Bravo!
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Format: Paperback
I hope that the fact that this book is back in print is a good sign that the other early non-Wexford novels of Ruth Rendell will also become easier to find. This novel is a masterpiece, a short and wonderful story that you can see happening. Rendell has so many strenghths in her writing, but the one I find most overwhelming and awe inspiring is her ability to really draw humans. To make you understand how ordinary people can find themselves in the most god awful of circumstances. How your mind can create the reality that you ultimately work from. It is true that this novel works from an almost "true crime" point of view. I found myself thinking of "In Cold Blood" so often that I had to remind myself that is was not a true case. You want to feel for Eunice, even in the face of the terrible acts she has prepertrated. A true accomplishment. May Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine live to be six hundred and ten and never stop writing. I hate to say there are only seven Ruth Rendell non-wexford books that I have not yet read (and I have a long commute on public transportation, so I go through them quick.) and I fear running out! My library also hopes more of her books become rereleased, as my excuse that my cat ate their books are beginning to wear thin. Once you have a Rendell in your hands, you are hesitant to give it back. It becomes a part of you. I don't think I have ever read a Rendell/Vine novel without declaring in the first 50 pages "Okay this is her best one ever." This is true of A Judgement in Stone" as well.
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By A Customer on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read this book twice,and it has the rare quality of being even scarier the second time around. It is an absolutely brilliant tour de force. Rendell begins in a flat, factual, true-crime style. She tells you immediately Whodunnit, and Why They Did. Then, at a seemingly leisurely pace, she recounts how it happened, and the result is absolutely chilling. All the characters are well-done, but the two teen-agers who are step-siblings are especially vivid, enough so to break your heart. Ruth Rendell is, to me, the best suspense writer in the business, and this book doesn't even make my top five favorites among her novels--but it's still awesome. She's the best.
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