Her millions of admirers must have thought they would never again read a new Ruth Rendell book but A Spot Of Folly, a collection of “ten and a quarter” new short stories, will certainly help to fill the void.
Seven of these stories have never been published in book form and have been drawn from publications such as American digest Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine or the Winter’s Crimes journal.
They are collected together in one volume for the first time and every one is a gem.
Most of these short stories are so substantial and satisfying, they read like novellas, each perfectly constructed from their compelling beginnings to their neat, surprising ends.
I particularly enjoyed The Thief, the tale of a woman with a disturbing desire to steal from anyone who annoys her. When an airline passenger spills coffee over her during a flight, she exacts revenge by stealing his luggage when the plane lands.
Will he track her down? Or has she got away with it? You won’t be able to put the book down until you find out.
A spine-tingling ghost tale opens with this line: “I don’t believe in the supernatural but just the same I wouldn’t live in Shawley Rectory.”
Who can resist finding out why? The “quarter” refers to a story just three sentences long with another intriguing opening line: “Alone in the four-poster, she glanced up from her book and saw in the mirror a little old woman sitting beside her.”
Acute observations and crisp, natural dialogue bring all of the collection’s characters to life and give the plots a chilling extra dimension of reality.
A Spot Of Folly shines as a superb epitaph to Rendell’s talent, reflecting the breadth and richness of her unique ability to turn seemingly ordinary everyday situations into suspenseful masterpieces.
As fellow bestselling author Sophie Hannah explains in her introduction, the book will be enjoyed by those who know Rendell’s work but also offers an excellent starting point for those who don’t.
Autumn is around the corner and this is the perfect book to curl up with in front of a log fire with a glass of wine.
A Spot Of Folly: Ten And A Quarter New Tales Of Murder and Mayhem by Ruth Rendell
Profile Books, £14.99