Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"No Night Is Too Long"

I have to review this great novel by Ruth Rendell, writing here as Barbara Vine, because it was the one that converted me to a mystery/suspense novel fan. I read it ages ago but I have to give it credit for starting my slow descent into genre-novel fandom.

In the book, anti-hero Tim Cornish decides to leave his older lover, Ivo, once and for all. Tim leaves Ivo stranded on an island off the coast of Alaska, moored and helpless amid the freezing waters – or so he hopes. Haunted by guilt and unanswered questions, he begins receiving anonymous letters in the mail. Each letter describes the story of a different shipwreck survivor, and soon Tim begins to fear he didn’t quite finish Ivo off.

It’s an excellent mystery, the kind to keep you up all night reading it, and the writing is incredibly atmospheric. I loved the images of Alaska, which were hauntingly, beautifully written. I read it in the middle of a New York City heatwave and I shivered. I also read it alone at night in a house that improbably backed onto a graveyard and jumped at ever little sound the whole night (I was forewarned but ignored sensible precautions).

I’m so glad it was my introduction to the genre.

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