- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 32 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: November 1, 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004ADM34Y
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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A Demon in My View Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Apart from its narrative momentum, as the lives of a disparate collection of lodgers in a down-at-heel rooming house fatally intertwine and unravel, the novel perceptively and accurately depicts "Kenbourne Vale" a fictional North West London suburb, during the 1970s public services strikes, with a shifting population, old terraced houses being demolished or cropped up into cheap rental warrens, grimy waste-ground and car-parks, Council housing estates, pretentiously-named streets, cheap corner shops and kebab houses. It's a world of self-service launderettes, overflowing dustbins and neglected amenities. The novel is full of cool observation and irony, touching on sexism, feminism and racism (key social themes of the 1970s). The major irony is that an aggressively normal research graduate is writing a thesis on criminal psychopathy, sharing his surname and lodgings with a repressed psychopath; and his innocent, well-meant action forces the strangler out onto the streets in search of real victims again.
A new resident moves into the building. He is Anthony Johnson, there to study, and write his thesis on the mind of the psychopath. He also awaits something personally important to him, word whether his love, a woman named Helen, will leave her husband, and come to him to start a life together.
A tradition in England exists called Guy Fawkes Day. Fawkes was a conspirator in the 1605 plot to assasinate King James I and blow up Parliament. Fawkes was discovered and executed. Every year on the date he was put to death, schoolchildren burn him in effigy. Fond of children, Anthony brings materials for the necessary bonfire, including the manikin he found while rummaging around in the cellar. In doingso, he has unknowingly deprived Arthur of his linchpin.
From this, the two lives intertwine, and a superb, tightly threaded mystery story is built. The two Johnsons are not the only interesting characters here, just the main ones. There is a second love triangle where one of the participants meets with devastating results, and another, sweeter love story in which a good man rediscovers the woman he always wanted. Rendell writes in a direct, but spare manner, befitting the nature of the story, an exploration of human minds under stress and dispair.
This book also convincingly illustrates how much of the good and bad that happens to individuals is pure fluke, pure accident - the result of some seemingly insignificant action taken unwittingly by someone far removed and down the chain of circumstance.
Rendell sets the tone brilliantly from the first page. She quotes an Edgar Allen Poe poem that includes the line: "And all I loved, I loved alone." That, along with the first paragraphs that describe the cellar of the apartment in which the main character lives - provide a compellingly apt atmosphere for the drama that's about to unfold. It's one of the great starts to a novel.
The writing is ominously noir throughout:
"Arthur closed the door, doing this in the totally silent way he had cultivated by long practice."
"...the streets received him, taking him into their arteries like a grain of poison."
"...these suppressed thoughts blossomed in dreams like tubers which, put away in the dark, throw out sick, sluglike shoots."
This is definitely a classic of a mystery/thriller.
This short novel is beautifully structured. Every scene, every word of it make sense and serve a purpose. The story seems deceptively simple but it draws you in in an inexorably seductive way. Every single character is so vividly described that you will remember this entire cast of characters for a long time after you finish reading this book.
I hope that more of Rendell's fantastic early classics come out in Kindle format.