Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Tree of Hands by Ruth Rendell + Just Desserts tonight!!

The Tree of Hands
by Ruth Rendell [Hoopla]

In advance of the April 2017 Just Desserts mystery book group meeting, where we discussed the entire body of works by British suspense writer Ruth Rendell, I asked one of the members — a huge Rendell fan — which single stand-along novel they would most recommend, and The Tree of Hands was what they suggested. It was one of two Rendell titles I read for that book group meeting, and was, by far, the best!

Rendell is a master of creating casts full of characters with mental twists, and this novel is a perfect example of this. There are multiple seemingly-independent storylines that are running simultaneously, and appear to have little to do with each other. But by the end of the book, all the separate characters have crossed each other’s paths, often to the detriment of everyone involved. Very few of the primary characters in this one — a successful writer who’s just lost her child in a tragedy and finds herself “gifted” with a stolen replacement, a con artist trying to sell a home he doesn’t own, a naive young man in love with an older woman, whose flaws he can’t see, and a mentally-damaged older mother with a limited grasp on reality — are people who you’ll like, but Rendell’s storytelling makes their individual plot threads extremely compelling, and you’ll be hard-pressed to guess where they’ll all end up.

In the end, I was extremely impressed by the complex storytelling and well-defined characters in The Tree of Hands, and strongly recommend it as an excellent example of Rendell’s stand-alone psychological suspense novels. If you like it, check out the Just Desserts handout on Rendell’s complete body of work to track down some more of her novels.

[ Wikipedia page for The Tree of Hands ] | [ publisher’s official Ruth Rendell web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Don't miss this month's Just Desserts mystery fiction book discussion club meeting -- being held TONIGHT, May 31st, 6:30-8:00 at the South Branch Library at 27th & South St. Tonight's theme is: "Series Share" -- all attendees were encouraged to read the first or second volume in ANY new mystery series that has begun in the past 3 years. Everyone will get a chance to speak about the series they sampled (and whether or not they'd recommend it). This month's meeting always generates a good "recommended reading list" for mystery fans!

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

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