Picks and Pans Review: The Fever Tree and Other Stories of Suspense
by Ruth Rendell
The title story in this entertaining collection is set in an animal park in Africa. A man has just reconciled with his wife, who manages men by acting like a little girl. The two are on vacation, where it takes only a couple of days for the man to decide that the reconciliation is a mistake. The woman insists, for one thing, on getting out of their car—a hazardous act, considering all the dangerous beasts prowling about. Rendell then gives her story an abrupt, unexpected twist. In The Dreadful Day of Judgment, three cemetery workers (an educated snob, a retarded man and a sex-obsessed laborer) have good reason to become frightened. A Glowing Future is about a bully who mistreats a woman who was his lover. Rendell, one of today's best British mystery writers, produces short stories with satisfying, often surprising endings. But what makes reading her such a pleasurable experience is the uncanny economy of the language she uses to create place, mood and vivid characters. (Ballantine, paper, $2.75)
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