The Rottweiler

by Ruth Rendell
ISBN: 0385660251

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A Review of: The Rottweiler
by Des McNally

Whenever I am about to read Ruth Rendell's latest offering, I wonder if this will be the first of her novels to disappoint. However, after reading more than 30 of her novels, (excluding those under the pseudonym of Barbara Vine), I am forced to the conclusion that it will either never happen or if it already has, then somehow I missed it.
Having been the beneficiary of many enjoyable hours of reading, compliments of Ms. Rendell, I settled down to read The Rottweiler with anticipation.
The story is set in a not too fashionable part of London. An antique shop over which tenants are housed serves as the main stage for the ongoing action.
The assorted tenants in the building are a means for Rendell both to confuse and amuse us. She endows them with unforgettable names and personalities, and as is the case with good mysteries fashioned with elaborate plots, these obscure and droll names assist the reader in keeping track of the author's machinations.
Inez Ferry, proprietor of the antique shop, is the fulcrum around which Rendell arranges for us to meet the peculiar tenants, giving us the pleasure of getting to know their various idiosyncracies. At the beginning of the narrative we encounter them expressing their alarm concerning the previous day's discovery of a third female murder victim not to too far from the shop. The first victim had been found with a bite mark on her neck, with the result that the press had baptized the culprit "The Rottweiler". This name sticks despite the fact that a DNA test later proves that the bite was a lustful act committed by her innocent boyfriend.
There seems little doubt that all of the murders are the work of one individual, since the perpetrator of the crimes always garrotes his/her prey and has a penchant for removing some small personal item as a memento of the occasion. Following the third murder, a person is seen fleeing into an area close to the antique shop. Consequently, the Police become regular visitors, and in classic Rendell fashion, police versus suspect interplay invariably takes place. Eventually, the requisite number of corpses is found, and after the reader has enjoyed tackling the whimsical challenges devised by the author, Rendell unveils the dastardly architect of the crimes and a most satisfactory finale is reached. This latest effort by the author is filled with what can be described as good-natured attempts to lead us astray. Ruth Rendell is rightly lauded universally as perhaps the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world, but I don't recall when her impish humour began including a fondness for Dickensian names (which I confess I particularly enjoy). This novel will appeal to Rendell fans both old and new.

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