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by Ruth Rendell

Pub Date: June 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5034-4
Publisher: Scribner

An ill-assorted group of neighbors, enough false notes to work corrosive effects and enough time for the whole bunch of them to stew until done, or done in.

Stuart Font, the newcomer to Kenilworth’s Lichfield House, thinks of his inheritance-fueled tenancy as a gap year, even though he’s already finished his schooling. In truth, he has no plans beyond throwing himself a housewarming party, continuing to shag fashion editor Claudia Livorno and purchasing more mirrors for his underdecorated flat. Aging hippie Marius Potter doesn’t look very far beyond taking tea with New Age healer Rose Preston-Jones. Noor Latif, Molly Flint and Sophie Longwich apparently have little on their minds beyond their studies and their parties. Michael Constantine, still getting used to his qualification as a physician, seems to have no interest in practicing. Olwen Curtis has chosen never to look beyond the next bottle of gin, and caretaker Wally Scurlock has given himself up to a single all-consuming passion. Duncan Yeardon, the neighbor who spent 30 years rescuing broken-down cars, is the only one who has the slightest interest in any of the tenants of Lichfield House. As he watches the Asian family across the street, he makes up stories about them just as fanciful as Dr. Constantine’s clueless columns of medical advice. After eight months of uncomfortable propinquity, some tenants will have found love, others unexpected violence and a lucky few something like peace—just in time for them all to depart the premises via prison or death or misadventure or simply moving on.

A tragicomedy that follows very much the same formula as Portobello (2010). No new ground is broken, but fans will be pleased.