‘Dark Corners is the very last novel by Ruth Rendell published after her death earlier this year. Her brilliance as a writer will be sadly missed as once again in this novel she has taken some fairly ordinary people and pushed them past the point where they have done extraordinary things.
Carl Martin is 23 years old and has published his first novel. This obviously doesn’t provide enough money for him to live on, so when Carl inherits his father’s house in the trendy London suburb of Maida Vale he decides to take in a tenant to live on the top floor. Dermot McKinnon is the first applicant and even though Carl doesn’t like him much, he rents him the rooms.
Carl’s father experimented with homeopathic cures and when he died, the bathroom cupboard was full of various obscure medicines. Carl should have thrown them all away but he didn’t.
Stacey is an out-of-work actress who has put on a lot of weight. She and Carl have been friends since school. Carl sells Stacey some diet pills from the cupboard without reading the warnings and Stacey dies. Dermot witnessed the sale and begins to blackmail Carl (refusing to pay rent and taking liberties with the use of the house). Carl would rather submit to blackmail than be publicly shamed. His life rapidly starts to unravel as he is unable to sleep or eat and starts to rake solace in alcohol.
Eventually Carl takes what he sees as the only way out. But this seems to be just the beginning of his problems.
Alongside Carl’s story is that of Lizzy, a school friend of both Carl and Stacey. Lizzy hasn’t made much of her life and has become a compulsive liar and petty thief. She is easily able to justify moving into Stacey’s flat (just to look after it) after her death. But eventually something happens that completely changes Lizzy’s life.
This was a typically dark Rendell novel where she has taken ordinary people and turned them into monsters. Do we all have a monster in us or do Ruth Rendell’s people contain a hidden dark side just waiting for the right events.
I enjoy Ruth Rendell’s work too much for this to be my last Rendell novel. I am slowly working my way through her Wexford series but would also love to read some more of her psychological thrillers.
Book Published 2015