The Rottweiler

( 9 )


The first victim had bite marks on her neck so the London papers nicknamed her killer, “the Rottweiler.” He has been stalking the small and diverse London community of Lisson Grove, where Inez Ferry runs an antique shop frequented by a motley collection of eccentric individuals. When the Rottweiler’s trinkets start showing up in the shop, suddenly, everyone Inez knows is a suspect, and the killer feels all too close. Enthralling and deeply unsettling, The Rottweiler alternates expertly between the mind of a ...

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The Rottweiler

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The first victim had bite marks on her neck so the London papers nicknamed her killer, “the Rottweiler.” He has been stalking the small and diverse London community of Lisson Grove, where Inez Ferry runs an antique shop frequented by a motley collection of eccentric individuals. When the Rottweiler’s trinkets start showing up in the shop, suddenly, everyone Inez knows is a suspect, and the killer feels all too close. Enthralling and deeply unsettling, The Rottweiler alternates expertly between the mind of a psychopath and the daily affairs of those living in his shadow. It is a transfixing mystery that only Ruth Rendell could write.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
A serial killer is loose in London, one who strangles his female victims and then takes a small trinket from each one as a morbid keepsake. The police are stumped -- until the jewelry begins turning up in an antiques shop.

The owner of Star Antiques, Inez Ferry, a 55-year-old widow still trying to come to grips with the loss of her beloved husband, also rents the apartments above the store to a diversity of less than savory middle-class characters. After Ferry finds the items and contacts the authorities, the plodding local detectives eventually come around asking questions but add little more to the case. As fear of the Rottweiler (the media's ill-described nickname for the killer) spreads, the police begin scrutinizing Ferry's employees and tenants. One tenant in particular, a learning-disabled handyman named Will Cobbett, is tagged a suspect for his unusual behavior. But as Cobbett is being interrogated, the real killer is walking the streets, desperately trying to recall what suppressed experience in his past (if any) compels him to kill.

Longtime Ruth Rendell fans will be delighted with The Rottweiler, a masterfully complex psychological thriller powered by a cast of brilliantly developed characters, heart-wrenching subplots, and enough insight into the machinations of the criminal mind to satisfy even the darkest heart. Larded throughout with irony, cynicism, and biting wit, The Rottweiler is yet another masterwork from a master storyteller. Paul Goat Allen

From the Publisher
"Classic Rendell, macabre and fast-paced, the kind of tale that makes you look twice at the shadows and dark corners of your own street. Grade: A." —Entertainment Weekly"Clever. . . . Especially sure-handed. . . . An expert, teasing mystery." —The New York Times "One of the few don't-miss authors in the genre. . . . Ruth Rendell is one of those writers one reads for the sheer joy of the way she puts words together. . . . The novel is superbly crafted. Read it when you have plenty of time to savor its many delights." — The Plain Dealer"The British master of style, suspense, complexity and creepy villains...Rendell is the perfect storyteller. . . . If you read only one novel this year, make it The Rottweiler." —The Orlando Sentinel"Powerful and appealing.... [Rendell] has the mystery form down pat." —The Washington Post"Ruth Rendell's books always rise to the top. She's so good..... In her quiet, silken-noose way, Rendell illuminates these people, traces their intersecting paths, and gives them meaning and substance." —The Seattle Times"Rendell is a master of the tires-on-ice moment, the moment when the intersecting elements begin their inexorable slide into calamity.... [Her] body of work...constitutes one of the most precise and unflinching contributions to contemporary English fiction." —Salon "Subtle, witty, and observant, Rendell creates a rich tapestry of characters and interweaves their stories.... The story of the killer provides the adrenaline, but the smaller stories of Becky, Inez, Zeinab, and the rest give this novel a beating heart." —The Boston Globe"Rendell's prose is incisive and clear, peeling away the complex layers that her characters, no matter how ordinary they appear, actually possess." —The Baltimore Sun"The author trains a...penetrating eye on the psychology behind her characters' foibles.... Even the most innocent secrets...have a function in the macabre scenario that ultimately flushes out the killer." —The New York Times Book Review"As usual, Rendell presents an intricate and intriguing story with a penetrating glimpse into the sometimes evil, sometimes pitiable, but always fascinating depths of human nature." —San Diego Union-Tribune"[Proves] again that, in the world of contemporary crime fiction, Rendell really is top dog." —The Times (London)
Janet Maslin
The Rottweiler is an especially sure-handed mystery novel from Ruth Rendell, arriving 40 years after the publication of her first one. Though it has the infelicitous name of a dog, this book is more of a cat-and-mouse affair. Ms. Rendell does an especially neat job of toying with the reader.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
A killer called the Rottweiller (you get the picture) steals trinkets from his victims that start turning up in a little London antiques shop. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400095889
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/13/2005
  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 524,760
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Rendell
Dame Ruth Rendell has been a serial award winner since she won her first Edgar in 1975. The first of several Gold Dagger awards came in 1976, for A Demon in My View. She was made a Life Peer in 1997.


From the start of her illustrious career, Ruth Rendell's novels have blurred the distinction between literature and commercial fiction. Although Rendell is classified as a writer of mysteries and crime thrillers, her elegant prose and superb literary skills elevate her far above the conventions of those genres.

Born Ruth Barbara Grasemann in London in 1930, she attended the Loughton County High School for Girls in Essex, then went to work as a features writer for the Essex newspapers. In 1950, she married her boss at the newspaper, journalist Donald Rendell. (They divorced in 1975, remarried two years later, and remained together until his death in 1999.) For the next decade, she juggled marriage, motherhood, and part-time writing. She produced at least two unpublished novels before hitting pay dirt in 1964 with From Doon with Death, the first mystery to feature Chief Inspector Reginald 'Reg' Wexford of the Kingsmarkham Police Force. An immediate bestseller, the book launched Rendell's career and marked the beginning of one of the most successful and enduring series in detective fiction.

In 1965, Rendell published her second novel, a deft crime thriller (with no police presence) entitled To Fear a Painted Devil. For 20 years, she was content to alternate installments in the Wexford series with a steady stream of bestselling standalones that explored darker themes like envy, sexual obsession, and the tragic repercussions of miscommunication. Then, in 1986, she began a third strand of fiction under the name Barbara Vine. The very first of these books, A Dark-Adapted Eye, earned a prestigious Edgar Award.

From the get-go, the pseudonymous Vine novels had a separate DNA, although Rendell has always had difficulty pinpointing the distinction. In an interview with NPR, she tried to explain: "I don't think the Barbara Vines are mysteries in any sense. I must say that. They are different, and that is partly how I decide. The idea would come to me and I would know at once whether it was to be a Barbara Vine or a Ruth Rendell ... The Barbara Vine is much more slowly paced. It is a much more in-depth, searching sort of book; it doesn't necessarily have a murder in it. It's almost always set partly in the past, sometimes quite a long way in the past. And I think all these things come together and make them very different from the Ruth Rendells."

Under both names, Rendell has garnered numerous awards, including three American Edgars and multiple Gold and Silver Daggers from England's distinguished Crime Writers' Association. In 1996, she was made a Commander of the British Empire; and in 1997, a Life Peerage was conferred on her as Baroness Rendell of Babergh. Although, in her own words, she was "slightly stunned" by the peerage, she takes her responsibilities quite seriously, writing in the mornings and attending the House of Lords several afternoons a week.

Praise for Rendell is lavish and seemingly unqualified. John Mortimer once proclaimed that she would surely have won the Booker if she had not been pigeonholed as a "crime writer." Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has identified Rendell as one of her favorite authors. And Joyce Carol Oates has called her "one of the finest practitioners of the craft in the English-speaking world."

Good To Know

While working as a journalist, Rendell once reported on a local club's annual dinner without actually attending. Her story omitted the crucial fact that the after-dinner speaker had dropped dead at the podium in the middle of his speech! She resigned before being fired.

The pseudonym Barbara Vine derives from the combination of Rendell's middle name and her great-grandmother's maiden name.

"I wouldn't keep my age a secret even if I had the chance," Rendell has said. "But I don't have the chance. Regularly, on February 17, the newspapers tell their readers my age."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Barbara Vine
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 17, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Loughton County High School for Girls, Essex

Read an Excerpt

The jaguar stood in a corner of the shop between a statue of some minor Greek deity and a jardinière. Inez thought it said a lot about the world we lived in that to most people when you said 'jaguar' they took it to mean a car and not an animal. This one, black and about the size of a very large dog, had once been a jungle creature someone's grandfather, a big game hunter, had shot and had stuffed. The someone had brought it into the shop the day before and offered it to Inez at first for ten pounds, then for nothing. It was an embarrassment having it in the house, he said, worse than being seen in a fur coat.

Inez only took it to get rid of him. The jaguar's yellow glass eyes had seemed to look reproachfully at her. Sentimental nonsense, she said to herself. Who would buy it? She had thought it might seem more attractive at eight forty-five in the morning but it was just the same, its fur harsh to the touch, its limbs stiff and its expression baleful. She turned her back on it and in the little kitchen behind the shop put the kettle on for the tea she always made herself and always shared these days with Jeremy Quick from the top floor.

Punctual as ever, he tapped on the inside door, and came in as she carried the tray back into the shop. 'How are you today, Inez?'

He, and he alone, pronounced her name in the Spanish way, Eeneth, and he had told her the Spanish in Spain, but not in South America, pronounced it like that because one of their kings had had a lisp and they copied him out of deference. That sounded like an apocryphal story to her but she was too polite to say so. She handed him his teacup with a sweetener tablet in the spoon. He always walked about, carrying it.

'What on earth is that?'

She had known he would ask. 'A jaguar.'

'Will anyone buy it?'

'I expect it will join the ranks of the grey armchair and the Chelsea china clock that I'll be left with until I die.'

He patted the animal's head. 'Zeinab not in yet?'

'Please. She says she has no concept of time. In that case, I said, if you've no concept of time, why aren't you ever early?'

He laughed. Inez thought, and not for the first time, that he was rather attractive. Too young for her, of course, or was he? Not perhaps in these days when opinions about that sort of thing were changing. He seemed no more than seven or eight years her junior. 'I'd better be off. Sometimes I think I'm too aware of time.' Carefully, he replaced his cup and saucer on the tray. 'Apparently, there's been another murder.'

'Oh, no.'

'It was on the news at eight. And not far from here. I must go.'

Instead of expecting her to unlock the shop door and let him out, he went back the way he had come and out into Star Street by way of the tenants' entrance. Inez didn't know where he worked, somewhere on the northern outskirts of London, she thought, and what he did had something to do with computers. So many people did these days. He had a mother of whom he was fond and a girlfriend, his feelings for whom he never mentioned. Just once Inez had been invited up to his top-floor flat and admired the minimalist decor and his roof garden.

At nine she opened the shop door and carried the bookstand out on to the pavement. The books that went in it were ancient paperbacks by forgotten authors but occasionally one would sell for 50p. Someone had parked a very dirty white van at the kerb. Inez read a notice stuck in the van's window: Do not wash. Vehicle undergoing scientific dirt analysis. That made her laugh.

It was going to be a fine day. The sky was a soft pale blue and the sun coming up behind the terraces of little houses and the tall corner shops with three floors above. It would have been nicer if the air had been fresh instead of reeking of diesel and emissions and green curry and the consequences of men relieving themselves against the hoardings in the small hours, but that was modern life. She said good morning to Mr Khoury who was (rather optimistically) lowering the canopy at the front of the jeweller's next door.

'Good morning, madam.' His tone was gloomy and dour as ever.

'I've got an earring that's lost its what-d'you-call-it, its post,' she said. 'Can you get it repaired if I bring it in later?'

'I shall see.' He always said that, as if he was doing you a favour. On the other hand, he always did repair things.

Zeinab, breathless, came running down Star Street. 'Hi, Mr Khoury. Hi, Inez. Sorry I'm late. You know I've no concept of time.'

Inez sighed. 'So you always tell me.'

Zeinab kept her job because, if Inez were honest with herself and she nearly always was, her assistant was a better saleswoman than she was. She could have sold an elephant gun to a conservationist, as Jeremy once said. Some of it was due to her looks, of course. Zeinab's beauty was the reason so many men came in. Inez didn't flatter herself, she'd plenty of confidence but she knew she'd seen better days, and though she'd been as good-looking as Zeinab once upon a time, it was inevitable that at fifty-five she couldn't compete. She was far from the woman she had been when Martin first saw her twenty years before. No chap was going to cross the street to buy a ceramic egg or a Victorian candlestick from her.

Zeinab looked like the female lead in one of those Bollywood movies. Her black hair came not just to her waist but to the tops of her slender thighs. In nothing but her hair to cover 3 her she could have ridden a horse down Star Street with perfect propriety. Her face was as if someone had taken the best feature from the faces of half a dozen currently famous film stars and put them all together. When she smiled, if you were a man, your heart melted and your legs threatened to buckle. Her hands were like pale flowers on some tropical tree and her skin the texture of a lily petal touched by the setting sun. She always wore very short skirts and very high-heeled shoes, pure white T-shirts in summer and pure white fluffy sweaters in winter and a single diamond (or sparkling stone) in one perfect nostril.

Her voice was less attractive, her accent not the endearing musical tones of upper-class Karachi but nearer Eliza Doolittle's Lisson Grove cockney, which was odd considering her parents lived in Hampstead and, according to her, she was practically a princess. Today she was wearing a black leather skirt, opaque black tights and a sweater that looked like the pelt of an angora rabbit, white as snow and downy as a swan's breast. She walked daintily about the shop, carrying her teacup in one hand and in the other a rainbow-coloured feather duster, flicking dust off silver cruets, ancient musical instruments, cigarette cases, thirties fruit brooches, Clarice Cliffe plates and the four-masted schooner in a bottle. Customers didn't realise what a task it was keeping a place like this clean. Dust soon gave it a shabby look as if the shop was seldom patronised. She paused in front of the jaguar. 'Where did that come from?'

'A customer gave it to me. After you'd gone yesterday.'

'Gave it to you?'

'I imagine he knew the poor thing wasn't worth anything.'

'There's been another girl murdered,' said Zeinab. 'Down Boston.' Anyone not in the know might have thought she was talking about Boston, Massachusetts, or even Boston, Lincs, but what she meant was Boston Street, NW1, which ran alongside Marylebone Station.

'How many does that make?'

'Three. I'll get us an evening paper the minute they come in.'

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2004

    Superb writer at the top of her form

    There is often a slightly disturbing undertone at the start of Ruth Rendell's novels. The reader is a little on edge, wondering which character is as s/he seems to be. As The Rottweiler's plot unfolds, this sense of unease gives way to a compelling fascination with characters and story. A murderer stalks a London neighborhood garroting young women; even the killer does not understand this compulsion to destroy. Eventually the evil deeds come home to roost, and the tension ratchets up even higher in this psychological thriller. Not just the killer's story is told; there are numerous other characters, some sympathetic, some not, whose lives intertwine with the murderer's, and who have their own problems and pleasures. Ms. Rendell's storytelling is taut, relentless, and irresistible - I highly recommend her latest work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great thriller

    In London, the first victim had a bite on her neck so the media dubbed the killer The Rottweiler¿, but that is so far from the truth about this murderer for the next two fatalities failed to include the bite. Instead the serial killer uses a garrote on his or her prey and takes an object from the deceased. Somehow these objec.ts end up in Inez Ferry's antique shop................... The police investigate everyone associated with Inez especially the boarders who reside in a home owned by Inez. Still the killer is clever making no mistakes as the count rises and the collectables show up in her shop. Inez wonders which one of her boarders, friends, or customers is the Rottweiler as she decides she must uncover this serial killer who has made her life a notorious mess before he or she adds her to the count?.............................. The incredible cast including a gloomy London that feels like a Ripper scenario makes this serial killer novel fill the audience with tension that never eases up even when the tale is finished. Several individuals seem sane yet on edge, which obviously can be a result of the murder spree in their neighborhood, but also leads readers and Inez to wonder which one is the killer although the former will not rule out the latter though the culprit appears to be a male. Fans of intense taut thrillers will appreciate Ruth Rendell¿s atmospheric murder mystery................ Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2004

    Outstanding trip into the human psyche

    Once again Ruth Rendell has succeeded in creating a work of wonderfully 'normal' characters that live on the edge of sanity. She is a master at creating multi-faceted characters that are believable and likeable until you get to know some of them better. I so admire and enjoy her understanding of the human psyche in the creation of characters that illustrate we are all just a little bit different.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2008

    A reviewer

    I have only recently 'discovered' Ruth Rendell for myself, and after a half dozen books find that they are suspenseful while never resorting to predictability. You know mid-way who the culprit is, but it is never clear how things will end for him or her. Meanwhile, there are always a host of other characters who you are just as interested in finding out how their lives will turn out. It is her character development that always pulls me along. That--and knowing that things won't necessarily work out in a happily-ever-after scenario, even if you've come to like a particular character. That's how life is. On a side note, I always enjoy Rendell's books for the glimpse they give me as an American of life in London, complete with unfamiliar turns of phrase--what is a 'bank' holiday, anyway?--and other British society customs. Rendell is always entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2006

    Not the Best for Rendell

    I am definitely a fan of Ruth Rendell. This book still was well written and she did a great job developing the characters. The plot was interesting and it was not predictable. The only problem that I found it was more drawn out than I felt was necessary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2005

    Loved this one!

    I am an avid reader of Rendell's books and this one was no exception to her best. Excellent character development made this book so much fun to read. It takes you into the inner psyches of each seemingly ordinary person and into the inner core of a psychotic killer. It's so not about the whodunnit but the why. Literate and suspenseful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2011

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    Posted April 29, 2009

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    Posted February 19, 2012

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