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The St. Zita Society: A Novel Hardcover – August 14, 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The queen of the psychological thriller...an updated Downton Abbey with a higher body count." --John WIlliams, Mail on Sunday (UK)

"Rendell is brilliant...her sympathy for the human predicament comes across in every line of this novel."--Sophie Hannah, Sunday Express (UK)

"Rendell is just marvelous." --Herald Sun (Australia)

"As always, Rendell excels at detailed misunderstandings, paranoia, subtle power-shifts and the laws of unintended consequences."--Laura Wilson, The Guardian (UK)

"One hell of a read...Rendell keeps us hanging on."--Jane Jakeman, Belfast Telegraph (UK)

"Leaves you longing for more."--Kirkus Reviews

"[A] masterwork...dark, intelligent and intriguing."--People

“It's a pleasure to report that Ruth Rendell, at the age of 82 and after publishing more than 60 books, has given us yet another gem. A pleasure but not a surprise, since Rendell has for years, along with her friend P.D. James, been bringing new sophistication and psychological depth to the traditional English mystery.”--Washington Post

About the Author

Ruth Rendell (1930–2015) won three Edgar Awards, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writ­ers’ Association. Her remarkable career spanned a half century, with more than sixty books published. A member of the House of Lords, she was one of the great literary figures of our time.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781451666687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451666687
  • ASIN: 1451666683
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
I ordered this new Ruth Rendell book from Amazon UK because I couldn't wait for the American release. I'm a mystery fan, and she's been my favorite mystery writer for 30+ years now. I love her Inspector Wexford books, but I particularly love her "stand-alone" suspense novels. THE ST. ZITA SOCIETY is one of these.

Saint Zita is the patron saint of servants, and that is the group we meet and get to know in this dark, mordantly funny thriller. All the domestic workers on Hexam Place in Pimlico, London, have formed a club of sorts, gathering in the local pub to air their grievances about their privileged employers, and to console and support one another. But some of them are secretly more upset than they let on, and at least one of them is a psychopath. Then the murders begin...

As usual, Rendell has more on her mind than merely telling an exciting--and very bizarre--story. What creeps into this novel is a real sense of the still-ongoing class system in Great Britain (and, by extension, the rest of the world). As a strong advocate of England's Labour Party, she really has a few things to say on the subject. But she never forgets that this is, first and foremost, a suspense novel. A feeling of dread slowly builds in the reader (well, it did in me), the feeling I get when I watch a Hitchcock movie. THE ST. ZITA SOCIETY is yet another excellent example of why Rendell is one of the most celebrated and awarded crime writers around. There's no one else like her. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm an ardent fan, and have literally read all her previous books (Rendell and Vine). I kept slogging through it, thinking it would certainly improve, but it did not. The characters were boring, there were far too many and we could not concentrate on any one, there was no mystery to the mayhem, the set ups were predictable--in short, if you are new to Rendell and you read this, do not think this is representative of her writing. She is about the best in the world. Don't judge by this poor showing.
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Format: Hardcover
One thing I really like about this book is that Rendell does not spend too much time persuading us to understand the novel's resident weirdo. I've had to sometimes make heavy weather of that sort of thing in the past.

There is a definite working-class partisanship to the novel; Rendell, now a life peer, has never forgotten the injustice of poverty.

I don't want to spoil the book, and I apologize for this very perfunctory review. The book is a thoroughly competent smorgasbord of knaves and fools, knives and tools. Not in my top echelon, but worthy of Rendell's name. I read it in two sittings.
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Format: Hardcover
What an odd book.

We all LOVE Ruth Rendell and read all she writes, but this was just...well, dull. NOTHING happens for 79 pages.

Characters are introduced and basically go in and out of doors. You have Rabia, Montserrat, Dex and about a dozen others. Most with odd names. And nothing happens. NOTHING. Then, someone dies.

Two people try to cover it up/hide the body. Sort of interesting but then...nothing happens. For 100 pages!

Then someone else is killed, mistakenly. Then the person who killed the person is killed in the very last sentence.

And that's it. I think if this was a 100 page novella, it would okay. But for a novel, it just is boring, which is NOT what a Ruth Rendell novel is.

I'll return for the next one. And if this is your first by her and you hated it, read A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES--it's brilliant!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished this last night, but I thought at first that not all of the book had downloaded to my Kindle. It stops suddenly and fails to resolve a number of the plot lines. I'm a Rendell/Wexford fan but this one was a disappointment.
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