- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 20 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: August 1, 2010
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003Y54Y46
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Keys to the Street Audiobook – Unabridged
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The main plot, I suppose, centres on Mary Jago, a young woman living in London. Mary has donated her own bone marrow to save the lie of a stranger. This generous act of kindness lead directly to the break-up of her relationship with the despiseable Alistair, and she moves out, taking up residence in a house on the edge of Regent's Park, looking after it while the owners are on holiday. However, soon, the man whose live she has saved will alter her own life irrevocably for ever.
Inhabiting Regent's Park (which, I suppose, would be the Sun of the earlier analogy) are the dropouts, the street-people, forgotten and ignored by society, until a vicious killer starts targeting them, leaving their bodies impaled upon the railings that border the park. Rendell creates several of these misfits, the most important one, I suppose, being Roman, a man who took to the streets, leaving behind his past and possessions, when his life was shattered upon the deaths of his wife and young children in a horrific accident. He is particularly interesting.
Then there is Bean, a retired butler-turned-dog-walker who roams the park every day exercising his canine clients, who despises the tramps who take refuge there. And then, most sinister of all, there is Hob, a hopeless drug addict living nearby in a rented flat, who is prepared to carry out acts of varying violence in return for very welcome payment...
I've never read a novel quite like this before, and I doubt that I will again. It is flawless in every way. A book so astoundingly good that I have now read it three times (remarkable, considering that I am rarely even prepared to set time by to re-read a book even once). But, then, almost all Rendell's books have this effect upon me. She has a prose style like no other writer today. It is entirely without emotions, pretension, or anything else, and yet it is powerful and gripping. She doesn't fill her books with unnecessary description - but when she does do descriptions, they are like gems thrown in a buskers case - instead creating a palpable sense of atmosphere and soon-to-be-destroyed normality. She has a brilliant sense of place, making London d seem claustrophobic and terrifying, and I am almost sure that If I suddenly found myself in Regent's Park I would quicken my step distinctly through irrational and superfluous fear entirely of Rendell's creating.
The characters she creates are drawn brilliantly, and are absolutely fascinating, every single one of them, so much so that I would gladly carry on reading about them if this book were even more than thrice its length. I want to know everything about them. The way they interact, each story occasionally connecting with one another, is also fascinating, and Rendell manages to examine brilliantly notions about effects and consequences.
"The Keys to the Street" (a title of genius!) is excellent. The whole thing sparkles with darkness, and holds a subtle originality that, along with other aspects, demonstrate clearly why Ruth Rendell is to be treasured.
The setting is the Regent Park area of London. The gates are closed at night except to residents who have keys, but various other people find their way past the gates. Several people are murdered and their bodies impaled on spiked fences, but that is just one of the plots. There is drug dealing, blackmail, muggings, and there is Mary Jago trying to escape from her ex-boyfriend and find a new life.
The plot takes some surprising twists and turns. Some people get what they deserve, but the abusive ex-boyfriend seems to walk away unscathed (except that he lost his chance with a rich heiress). Perhaps Marnock should have named the killer on the last page instead of making readers figure it out from the clues given, but that means you have to read the book carefully.