Review: The St. Zita Society by Ruth Rendell

Description (from cover):

“From three-time Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell comes a captivating and expertly plotted tale of residents and servants on one block of a posh London street–and the deadly ways their lives intertwine.

Life for the residents and servants of Hexam Place appears placid and orderly on the outside: drivers take their employers to and from work, dogs are walked, flowers are planted in gardens, and Christmas candles lit uniformly in windows. But beneath this tranquil veneer, the upstairs-downstairs relationships are set to combust.

Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord’s wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrat, the Still family’s lazy au pair, assists Mrs. Still in keeping secret her illicit affair with a television actor–in exchange for pocket cash. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, tries to enlist her fellow house-helpers into a “society” to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, Dex, the disturbed gardener to several families on the block, thinks a voice on his cell phone is giving him godlike instructions–commands that could imperil the lives of all those in Hexam Place.

 The St. Zita Society is Ruth Rendell at her brilliant best–a deeply observed and suspenseful novel of murder in the quintessentially London world of servants and their masters.”

 My thoughts:

          Let me first start off by saying that this is the first Ruth Rendell book that I have ever read. I know that she has some 60 other books or so and that they have won various awards and prizes. That being said, I can review this book by itself and not compare it to her other novels. This book was so-so. I loved the upstairs-downstairs feel which seems to be abundant right now due to the success of Downton Abbey. Every single one of these characters has some weird type of quirk. Dex, the gardener, hears a voice speaking to him in a cell phone which becomes obsessive. Thea cannot tell anyone “no” and everyone walks all over her. Montserrat looks after herself and herself only and it goes so on.

          A murder takes place on Hexam Place and the residents are all oblivious to the world around them and tend to be only involved in their own lives. It is interesting to see how the characters all play off each other and use the most unlikely relationships to get what they want. There were so many characters in this book with their own stories that I found it really hard to keep up with who was who, who did what and I found myself at times very frustrated with the author for having so many characters. That is mainly the biggest part of why I didn’t really like this book all that much. If you can look past that or get the characters completely down, then perhaps this book might appeal to you more so than it did to me. The plot was charming, the characters were likable and I found myself laughing at times at their crazy antics. Not the best book that I have read, but a good quick read to pass the time.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Title: The St. Zita Society
Author: Ruth Rendell
Series: N/A
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Pages: 272
Genre: Mystery

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind.  All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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