Book Review: The St. Zita Society, by Ruth Rendell

This review originally ran in the Friday, August 17, 2012 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. If you don't already subscribe, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

On a quiet street in London, a chauffeur is sleeping with his master's daughter--and his master's wife. Down the street, in exchange for pocket cash, another family's au pair helps sneak into the house her mistress's lover, a man who happens to be a famous soap opera actor and grand-nephew to the stuck-up housekeeper of a princess of dubious origin. The local gardener believes that his god is speaking to him through his cell phone, setting him on a mission to destroy the evil spirits he sees around the city. This unlikely cast of characters bands together in a haphazard society that they call the St. Zita Society, named for the patron saint of domestic servants.

The St. Zita Society, a standalone novel from the delightfully imaginative mind of Ruth Rendell, is a gripping portrayal of the London world of servants and their masters, all marching toward an inevitable--and violent--conclusion. Rendell approaches the inner lives of her characters with a detailed, probing eye, bringing them to life with her sharp and clever writing. Her shockingly normal characters--a housewife with an obsession for exercise and tight jeans; an absent husband who throws himself into his work; a lazy au pair with a knack for doing as little as possible--only make the suspense all the more striking. Rendell has written more than 50 novels, and the The St. Zita Society, a brilliantly crafted novel of psychological suspense, further enforces her rightful place as the queen of British mystery writing.


The St. Zita Society | Ruth Rendell | Scribner | Hardcover | 272 pages | August 2012 | Buy from an independent bookstore near you


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