I named this440px-RuthRendell blog The Constant Reader, because, as I explained, my longest reading relationship is with author Stephen King, since I discovered Different Seasons at age 13. But, to be honest, there is another author I have read since almost as long: this author is Ruth Rendell.

I remember my first Ruth Rendell book, I was on vacation, I might have been 19, no more than 20, when I borrowed one of my mother’s novels, translated in french: it was King Solomon’s Carpet. I still remember how enthralled I was by the story, how taken by the style and how I knew then that this novel was not like anything I had read before. I knew that I had made a discovery that would alter my reading experience from then on.

I am not sure I thought about Ruth Rendell as a crime writer then, because that story had nothing to do with the crime novels I used to read. For the first time, I realised that mysteries did not have to be whodunits, that they did not have to feature a detective or even that the crime could sometimes occur in the very last pages. I was blown away: this author did not respect the rules, but the mystery and the thrill and the suspense were there indeed…

Later, I read other novels by Ruth Rendell (all in english though, not in their french translations), I could not say in what order, but I know some of them stand out in my memory: A Sight for Sore Eyes, The Keys to the Street, The Chimney Sweeper’s boy, A Guilty Thing surprised, etc. Ruth Rendell was not afraid to tackle the hard, disturbing themes and to create marginal characters, suffering from strange obsessions or mental illnesses, and she did it with a style so impeccable that people who despise the mystery genre (I am not one of them) could call wasted on mysteries. I admire Ruth Rendell’s writing because it is elegant, evocative, and spare. I love that it flows and grabs you from the first page.

However, I must confess something: I am not the biggest fan of Ruth Rendell’s inspector Wexford’s novels. I like Reginald Wexford, some of the Wexford novels stand out (Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter and A Guilty Thing Surprised come to mind), but the really special novels for me are the stand-alone novels, and particularly, the one she published as Barbara Vine, almost each and everyone of them fascinating in their own way, with their own special, often claustrophobic atmosphere.

Now my favorite Vine’s novel? That’s a tough call, but I think it might be A Fatal Inversion. Or maybe King Solomon’s Carpet, the first one I ever read. You know what: I am not sure… I might have to reread them all…

I am sad to think that I won’t have a new Ruth Rendell’s novel to look forward to. Since I haven’t read them all yet, I still have some left to discover. Thank you, Ruth Rendell, for revolutionising my reading experience, you will be missed…