God speed, Ruth Rendell

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Ruth Rendell died on May 2. She suffered a stroke back on January 7, and though she lasted for a while, she was unable to recover. That wasn’t entirely unexpected – she was 85-years-old.

I am an aspiring Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine complete-ist and hope to own first editions in all of her books. I only have a few at the moment but hopefully I have a few more decades to finish up.


I had started a Ruth Rendell discussion for this site. She was not only one of the best mystery writers ever to grace the genre, but she understood mental illness in a way no other writer has mastered nearly as well. I am writing about some of the mentally-ill characters Rendell created, among them the woman with contamination OCD in Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, the main character with borderline personality disorder in The Bridesmaid, and a host of afflicted characters in her short stories. The illnesses play an important role in her intricate but quite believable plots and it almost seems at times like Rendell wrote about mental illness in a way that could poke at my own mental ticks.  The protagonist in “You Can’t Be Too Careful” suffered from some sort of personality disorder and was obsessed with safety, orderliness, cleanliness and self-assumed duty.  She was constantly ruminating over locks, doors on latches, dusting books, cot beds.  When I was a kid, I had a pretty serious case of echolalia that I more or less grew out of but always lurks.  This short story set it off.  It was the repetition of “k” and “t”, I think.  I find myself saying, under my breath, book lock cot latch book lock…

I wonder if anyone else has this experience when they read this story?

At any rate, I will at some point finish and post the article.  Ruth Rendell really was one of the finest writers of her generation and genre and I feel somewhat stricken to know she is gone forever and that there will be no more books.  God speed, Baroness Rendell.