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Talking To Strange Men (1988)

Talking to Strange Men (1988)
3.75 of 5 Votes: 3
0345351746 (ISBN13: 9780345351746)
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Talking To Strange Men (1988)
Talking To Strange Men (1988)

About book: Ruth Rendell novels adapt very well to the audio format and the ones I have listened to have all been enjoyable. Her plots are intricate. Have you seen those pseudo-family trees that "prove" connections between rock stars and royalty, politicians and criminals...? Rendell plots are like that. They remind me of dropping a small blob of ink on blotting paper and seeing the tendrils creep out and join up. Her characters are not always very likable, and often have curious names, but they always seem real and true to life. Surely we all know people like Colin, who still lives with his mother, or Fergus, who worries about everything? She even takes trouble with minor characters. I loved the teacher who peppered his conversations with Latin phrases and the old mother who assumed an invitation to her son to meet for a pint at the pub included her. The plot is very original, I doubt you'll have read anything like this before. Spookside is a very inventive creation, but Rendell keeps it credible. The handling of all the different plot strands is deft, with no loose ends left. I also like the way the reader is left wondering what would happen next. A clever and complex plot.This said, there were a few things I found puzzling. What was the Gavin/Mynah bird thing all about? Was it just local colour? Or was it showing you how people react when losing someone/thing they care about or want. John, Mark, Peter, Jennifer and Gavin all seemed to me to be foiled in love, be it for birds, wives, boys or whatever. Love is pretty dangerous in Ruth Rendell's world, isn't it, and leads to unwelcome consequences for everyone. I also felt there was a slight lapse in credibility at the point when Jennifer let Charles clean the car just after John's revelation about Peter. Was she in denial, was it a test, was she stupid?All in all, I thought this was an enjoyable listen as I went up and down the M1 last week. Christian Rodska (whoever he is) was an excellent reader. Mind you, I reckon whoever reads Ruth Rendell, it is still her voice that you hear. Her writing is quite distinctive.

After stumbling upon and reading hidden messages from one group member to another, John Creevey believes he has uncovered an espionage ring or possibly an underground mafia group planning crimes and even murder. What he's really found is a harmless game played by school boys in which coded messages are hidden in what the boys believe is a "safe drop" away from the prying eyes of adults. Creevey's interference in the harmless pranks and plots of these boys forms the basis for Rendell's story.What I like most about Ruth Rendellbooks is the psychology she includes with her characters. The reader comes to know what motivates the people in her stories; what makes them do what they do, and how they've arrived at the thought process with behavior that moves the story forward.All of the men in Talking To Strange Men could be classified as "strange" in some way. Some will go to great lengths just to get attention. Others are lonely and because they have no lives to speak of, everything that happens to them becomes magnified beyond its real importance. Even the schoolboys involved in their competitive games with complicated codes and clever tricks each participate in this activity for their own specific reasons outside of the obvious inducement of having fun.I'd recommend this book or any book by Ruth Rendell to anyone who enjoys reading about characters who have depth and will often surprise the reader by what they do next.
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Foster Winter
I always expect Ruth Rendell's books - as she is a Brit author within the mystery genre - to be more of the cozy mysteries. But she's not that at all. Even though that's what I had expected, she does a wonderful job at creating images and feelings about the circumstances and settings of her stories. In this particular one, however, there were parallel plots that I expected to merge with some amount of irony, and it never happened. Does that make it wrong,or a poor read? Probably not - only that my expectations were not met. Nonetheless, I found myself looking forward to each chapter and that kept me engaged.Confused? Good - my job here is done.
Ian & Mungo Cameron, Charles Mabledene, & Graham O'Neill are precocious London schoolboys who enjoy a sophisticated game of devising, exchanging, & translating coded messages. Conventionally middle-class John Creevey becomes obsessed with intercepting & deciphering these messages even as he plots revenge on his estranged wife, Jennifer, & her lover, Peter Moran, an intellectual ne'er-do-well pederast. An intriguing subplot deals w/ the long-unsolved murder of John's sister, Cherry. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I really enjoyed this story - Ruth Rendell is a great psychological suspense storyteller.
Stephen Lawton
I'm not really sure what I thought of this "two stories that eventually intersect" story. On the one hand I couldn't follow nor was interested in the schoolboy spies story. On the other I was interested in the "hopelessly wants to get back with his ex-wife" story and the very bizarre revelations that came with it. There was definitely a build up of tension once the stories intersected and I'm very glad that one of those stories didn't go the way it could have as that would have been very hard to read. At the end of it all I felt slightly dissatisfied though I can't articulate why. Maybe it's because of all the descriptive passages that don't really add anything to the story or its mood.
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