by Ruth Rendell (Hutchinson) R235, 00 ISBN: 9780091944056
The workers of Hexam Place, an exclusive street of Georgian houses, decide to form The Saint Zita Society. Zita was the patron saint of domestic workers.
Rendell fills the pages with psychologically damaged characters. Upstairs, we have the unhappily married Preston and Lucy Still; The Princess; Dr Jefferson; Lord and Lady Studley; Damian and Roland. Downstairs, we have au pair, Montserrat, nanny, Rabia and cook, Zinnia; housekeeper, June; chauffeur, Beacon, gardener, Dex; chauffeur, Henry; unpaid servant, Thea.
Rad Sothern, television star, and Lucy’s lover, is accidentally killed by her husband. Montserrat persuades him to cover up the crime and the two dispose of the body. Dex, who tried to kill his mother as a child, and who has been rehabilitated, is then instructed to dispose of Montserrat by Peach, the god who lives in his cell phone. Henry, who is shagging both Lady Studley and her daughter, Huguette, appears for some reason or the other. Rabia, who loves the Stills’ children too much, watches as her employers begin divorce proceedings. Thea is about to marry Jimmy, although she doesn’t love him. And so it goes.
Lost yet? I was. Constantly. As much as I love Rendell’s writing, I could not tolerate the extra characters in this book. It is a feat that she manages to weave some of their lives together. The book would have been better with half of them deleted. Rendell writes another urban caper. The problem with this one is the dearth of likeable characters, and lack of cohesive plot. I am not sure why I finished the book.