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It's a Peach
on July 14, 2012
The first character we meet in The St. Zita Society has recently been released from a mental hospital after trying to to kill his mother. Dex just scrapes by working as a gardener in a posh neighborhood near Sloane Square in London. He has prosopagnosia (face blindness) and seems to believe that his cell phone provider, called Peach, is the voice of god.
He is certainly the oddest person in the book, but not the most evil. There are many candidates for that role and even initially sympathetic characters come under suspicion.
The St. Zita Society starts slowly, which is not a bad thing -- there are so many characters, it takes some time to become familiar with their relationships and connections. The first death doesn't take place until nearly halfway into the book.
I can count on Rendell to keep me entertained, not only as I read the book, but afterward, as I try to piece together everything that happened and figure out how I missed critical clues. In addition to irresistible plots, Rendell draws the most fascinating characters in crime fiction. They unfold like psychiatric case studies. This time, she also increased my vocabulary, with dugong and psychopomp joining the list of words I can't wait to use in conversation if the right occasion ever arises.
The St. Zita Society is her best mystery in a decade. Can't wait for her next as Barbara Vine, due in December, 2012.