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Ruth Rendell

The St. Zita Society

Ruth Rendell The St. Zita Society
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This captivating novel about residents and servants on one block of a posh London street is a “sex comedy and a social satire, of the ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ variety, with a few murders mixed in for our added delight” (The Washington Post Book World).

Life for the residents and servants of Hexam Place appears placid and orderly on the outside: drivers take their employers to and from work, dogs are walked, flowers are planted in gardens, and Christmas candles glow uniformly from windows. But beneath this tranquil veneer, the social hierarchy is set to combust.

Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord’s wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrat, the Still family’s lazy au pair, assists Mrs. Still in keeping secret her illicit affair with a television actor—in exchange for pocket cash. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, tries to enlist her fellow house-helpers into a “society” to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, Dex, the disturbed gardener to several families on the block, thinks a voice on his cell phone is giving him godlike instructions—commands that could imperil the lives of all those in Hexam Place.

The St. Zita Society is Ruth Rendell at her brilliant best—a deeply observed and suspenseful novel of murder in the quintessentially London world of servants and their masters.

“If you're unfamiliar with Ruth Rendell, if you've somehow managed to miss her 60 or so books, if you've never experienced the frisson produced by her unique blend of elegant prose and brutal plotting or laughed out loud at her acidic humor or social observations, then congratulations: Your reading life is about to get infinitely richer… As with Patricia Highsmith, Rendell is a brilliant if detached observer of all levels of society… Like Charles Dickens, Rendell writes about contemporary London crime, but no one would call Dickens just a mystery writer. Rendell's work is too great, too thought-provoking and too important to be pigeonholed. The only mystery is why everyone doesn't know it.”

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