Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Ruth Rendell delights millions of readers with her writing style and no reader could resist the opening of her latest novel The Saint Zita Society: ‘Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria. So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way. Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour.’
The location in Ruth Rendell’s latest novel is Hexam Place, the kind of London street that might seem familiar in crime fiction. Not from Ruth Rendell’s pen. For the Saint Zita Society its occupants fall into two clear categories: those who own or rent property there and those who work for them. Saint Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants, and the society operates under the capable administration of June Caldwell, maid, companion and long term dogsbody to the self-styled Princess Susan Hapsburg. A vast range of workers belong to the society, each with his or her own problems, secrets, grievances or pleasures, such as the Muslim nanny Rabia, who finds such happiness in her employer’s baby son, and Dex ruled by the spirits controlling his mobile phone.
When death comes to Hexam Place the two categories begin to merge with each other with surprising results. The lives of all of them are changed, as each member of the society adds his own contribution to what then takes place. The Saint Zita Society has no Inspector Wexford, however, and leans more towards the straight novel with its focus on the interaction of the many characters who become involved in the repercussions of the death. The plot builds slowly and with no central protagonist the characters tell their own stories until the jigsaw pieces slot together in a neat conclusion to an interesting, if not wholly satisfying, novel. RPrince
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