A revised edition of this book has been published by Poisoned Pen Press (2012). A book cover picture will soon be posted here.  Meanwhile, copy from the first edition will describe the content of this study of Ruth Rendell.

Description from Backcover Copy

The Fiction of Ruth Rendell: Ancient Tragedy and the Modern Family analyzes the multi-leveled treatment of themes that contributes to the author’s standing as a major figure in contemporary literature. Rendell, who also writes as Barbara Vine, draws on ancient Greek narratives, and on the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung derived from them, to characterize the disturbed family relationships found throughout her work.

This book

--Considers what distinguishes mysteries as popular entertainment from crime fiction as literary art.

--Demonstrates that the complexities of Rendell’s novels encourage rereading even when the reader remembers “whodunit.”

--Looks closely at the Oedipus and Electra complexes and how they illuminate Rendell’s portrayals of the different pairings within the nuclear family.

--Discusses Rendell’s treatment of gender differences that impact on intra-familial relationships.



Reception of this book so far has been very encouraging.  Ruth Rendell herself sent me a letter of high praise for my careful study of her fiction.  A reader in the United States informed me that he has written an enthusiastic review that will be published in his local Sisters in Crime newsletter. A reviewer in England  awarded the book five stars out of five and wrote, “This is a challenging literary study but a very rewarding one. Leavy is to be congratulated on her efforts to raise awareness of the work of Ruth Rendell and her place in English literature. Above all, this book does what the best literary criticism does: encourage you to go back and re-read its subject.”

A revised edition of this book will be released by Poisoned Pen Press in the Fall of 2012.

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