In Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, the mills of the gods appear to have ground Jock Lewis to dust--or have they? Jock's obsessive-compulsive girlfriend, Minty, thinks he was killed in a train crash and is tormented by his ghost. But the cheerfully amoral Jock--AKA Jerry Leach and Jeff Leigh, depending on which woman he's romancing--faked his death to move on to yet another unsuspecting lady. His one legal wife has swept their union hastily under the rug and married a conservative member of Parliament, who has his own urgent secrets. Jock's most recent fiancée, a successful banker, hasn't minded keeping him in the manner to which he's become accustomed--that is, until the day he doesn't come home. When his body is found in a cinema, the intersections of his past collapse in a way that destroys some lives and rebuilds others.
Adam and Eve and Pinch Me is no whodunit: the murderer is known from the outset. The suspense arises from the uncertainty of whether justice will be served. That deftly handled angle draws the reader into the book, while Ruth Rendell's famously acute insight into all forms of borderline madness makes it all so believably chilling. --Barrie Trinkle
From Publishers Weekly
HThis latest gem from the British master concerns the wreckage wrought on a variety of Londoners by a womanizing con man who speaks in rhymes. Here, as in A Sight for Sore Eyes (1999), Rendell's genius is to create characters so vivid they live beyond the frame of the novel. She pushes the ordinary to the point of the bizarre while remaining consistently believable. Araminta "Minty" Knox, the fragile center of the plot, is a 30-something woman, alone and obsessed with hygiene, who works in a dry-cleaning shop. All the world is a petri dish for Minty, who sees germs everywhere, which she attacks with Wright's Coal Tar Soap. She is equally tormented by the ghosts she imagines, her domineering "Auntie" and the man who took her virginity. Other characters hover on the borderline between transformation and disaster. Tory MP "Jims" Melcombe-Smith, in bed politically with the "family values" crowd, is simultaneously courting a gay lover. Working-class Zillah Leach, bored with her small children and smaller bank account, schemes to marry up, even at the risk of committing bigamy. This is not a whodunit in the sense of Rendell's Inspector Wexford novels, but a study of crime's origins and especially its consequences as they ripple out beyond the immediate victims. The plot is intricate but brisk, and Rendell nails her characters' psychology in all its perverse logic. She has a travel writer's sensitivity to setting, to the architecture, cemeteries, birds and vegetation of contemporary Britain. This is a literary page-turner, both elegant and accessible.
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