Tigerlily’s Orchids by Ruth Rendell

Set for the most part in and around a block of flats in North London, Tigerlily’s Orchids is partly told through the gossip which the residents share with each other. It was an interesting way for a story to unfold, but unfortunately for me, it lead to half formed characters who I didn’t care about that much.

This book was something of a mystery to me, I mean, it’s by Ruth Rendell, so presumably it would be classed as a crime novel, but the first death occurs more than half way through, and there’s no detective. Mystery then, perhaps. There were various mysteries in the book, although the solving of them was just  another part of the story, not really the conclusion. I’ve never read any of her books before, so I don’t know if this is her normal style; I just know I found it surprising.

Some of the subject matters were quite heavy, such as paedophilia, alcoholism, people trafficking, but they were dealt with in a fairly light, superficial way. In another book this would have annoyed me, but here it fitted well with the general feeling.

In one way, this was quite a refreshing way to read a book. In another, it’s hard to care about what’s happening when the characters are among the biggest group of morons you’ve ever had the misfortune to read about. There was nobody to root for here, nobody to want to triumph.

Considering how little I felt for the characters, this book was surprisingly very readable. I usually read on the tram to work, but I find it distracting and don’t get through very many pages; with this book I nearly missed my stop because I was so immersed. If you’re looking for a light holiday read, then this would be great. If you’re after a traditional whodunnit, then you should probably try elsewhere.

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