- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 12 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: September 11, 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0098Y80OW
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Thirteen Steps Down Audiobook – Unabridged
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There are three major characters, all with love fantasies based only loosely on reality. Mix Cellini is a former abused child with the attendant potential for violence. He is obsessed with mass murderer Reggie Christie (who really did live in Notting Hill) and with supermodel Nerissa Nash. Nerissa has her own fantasies about the boy next door. Gwendolyn Chawcer, an octogenarian who rents a flat to Mix Cellini, constantly remembers her own great love, a doctor who attended her dying mother fifty years earlier. The plot interweaves between these characters and their obsessions, finally culminating in a tragic but satisfying ending for two characters and greater maturity and self-knowledge for the third.
The settings add to the pleasure of the plot twists. London's Notting Hill is a crowded, cosmopolitan area with many neighborhoods ranging from posh to slum, and Gwendolyn Chawcer's crumbling, dust-filled mansion is an appropriately creepy, even haunted, center for the mystery's unfolding. There are also many lesser characters whose personalities and observations add to the story and help illuminate the main plot.
Thirteen Steps Down is Rendell at her finest.
Mix's 80-year old landlady is as 'bonkers' as he is; she's a haughty book-worm who harbors strange delusions of her own, while she lets a once grand London Manor House deteriorate around her.
Other characters include a music-loving "ghost" who terrifies Cellini; a turbaned Mr. Singh next door who keeps geese and twinkle lights in his yard, and several old lady "busy-bodies" who enter/leave the premises continually, and unite in total befuddlement over the curious discovery of a "thong" - being a word they "associate with sandals." Some of the dialog made me laugh out loud. (Mix's expression of love to Nerissa is a riot - definitely NOT romantic poetry, but he did establish that he was YONKS for her...)
We can't forget Otto the cat, who also has his own interesting moments and is quite adept at giving Cellini the evil eye.
Yes, of course there is a murder - you can't have a mystery without a dead body or two. And there is the reference to the horrid & despicable John Reginald Christie - not a character in the book per se, but an object of Mix's admiration in Mix's mixed-up mind.
I've read everything by Ruth Rendell (except the Inspector Wexford Series), and to me this is not typical of her writing. I could see this book adapted for the British stage (think "Mousetrap). To people who found it frightening and disturbing, or perhaps a study in delusion, or perhaps a Gothic thriller (the old mansion is up to the gothic task) - well, I think that's FINE also. For everyone reading a book, there could be a different ways to enjoy it - particularly when it is by The Grand Dame of English Mystery. For me, this was DARK humor, typically British, and filled with zany characters. My only criticism: Perhaps a bit too long. This book may have been more interesting and less repetitious with at least 50 less pages. Still - a pleasure to read!
I like Martha Grimes, Michael Connelly, T.Jefferson Parker & Robert Crais. I also have read all of Dame Agatha and Marsh.