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Review: The House of Stairs, by Barbara Vine

Barbara Vine (also known as Ruth Rendell) is one of my favorite authors, at least in the area of suspense. I first read The House of Stairs many years ago and loved it, and upon re-reading this book, it hasn’t changed much for me. In fact, it may just be Vine’s best book. I’m very much intrigued by stories of people and their psychological relationships with one another, and I’m especially intrigued when there’s a bunch of deep, dark secrets that are involved. It also doesn't hurt if there's a big, old, mysterious house, too. Luckily for me, The House of Stairs contains all three.

The mystery is an unusual one: the murderer is revealed before the crime unfolds. The main character, Elizabeth, goes to the House of Stairs, a boarding house, to live. There she meets Mark and Belle, two people who come to have a significant impact on her life.

Barbara Vine is a master at this kind of suspense, weaving together memories of the narrator's past with that of the narrator's present. Its a masterful novel, one which, like so many other books by this author, play tricks on the minds of readers. It is suspenseful, maddening; but an interesting study of human nature. It requires a lot of time and energy, but its well worth it in the end.

Also reviewed by: Books I Done Read


jenclair said…
I'm a Vine/Rendell fan, too. I've not read this one and will put it on the list!

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