(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Ruth Rendell moved both the detective and suspense genres toward serious fiction, as did Wilkie Collins in the nineteenth century. She does this not only with her well-crafted style but also with her concern for psychological analysis of both the criminal mind and the investigator’s mind, often also encompassing the victim’s mind. She structures her plots and subplots using a sophisticated parallelism, and there is a keen awareness of the context of literature within the plotting. There is, in other words, a conscious literariness as well as a conscious crafting in her fiction. Her awareness of contemporary British culture and its crosscurrents melds strongly with concrete description and accurate characterization. In achieving this, Rendell has shown younger writers the demands of the genre and how it can be developed.