cover image Collected Stories

Collected Stories

Ruth Rendell. Pantheon Books, $19.95 (536pp) ISBN 978-0-394-56942-0

Three MWA Edgars and her home country's top honors as well as critical raves symbolize the British author's stature as a versatile inventor of suspenseful tales. This anthology contains 38 stories reprinted from previous collections, several featuring Inspector Wexford, in exemplars of the police procedural. In ""Achilles Heel,'' Wexford is on holiday in Yugoslavia but distracted from the charms of the shimmering Adriatic Sea and Dubrovnik's lovely garden spots. Alerted to the conduct of fellow Britishers, Philip and Iris Nyman, the inspector reveals astonishing powers of observation that helped him solve a nasty crime. In other stories about ``ordinary'' people, Rendell's perceptions unveil sordid realities lurking beneath respectable facades. ``Divided We Stand'' concerns sisters whose bedridden mother constantly demands attentions that exhaust her spinster daughter Pauline. Marjorie, the other daughter, lives comfortably and selfishly with her family until the news that Pauline plans to marry, leaving the old woman to Marjorie's untender care. The denouement is a psychological stunner that few writers can rival. (May)