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Summary

Louise North doesn't care what the neighbors think. She lets her lover leave his car just outside her house in broad daylight, telling everyone he is a central heating salesman. Still, it's a shock when she's found shot dead, covered by the equally dead body of the "salesman."

It was his third visit to the gloomy house on Orchard Drive. Each time, he parked in the same place. Each time, he carried a briefcase. And each time, Louise North greeted him at the door.... Susan Townsend was the only resident with no interest in the affair going on next door, or in the neighbourhood gossip about it. Yet when Susan finds Louise shot dead, underneath the equally dead body of her lover, it is Susan who must help Louise’s husband, Bob, to get back on his feet. But is she really a helpful neighbor or, a murderer?

©1968 Ruth Rendell (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Secret House of Death

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Was life really like this?

Quite apart from the detective element, which I really enjoyed, this was worth the price as a period piece. I was brought up in the 70s and this book evoked such memories of times when men were men and went to work, and women stayed home (and had cleaners! - but no central heating).

Beautifully read as always by Simon Russell Beale, capable of infusing menace into a company annual report and balance sheet.

12 people found this helpful

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The Secret House Of Death

This murder mystery, set in a fictional suburb of north west London makes for an extremely rewarding listening experience. Susan Townsend is a divorcee living in a street where the neighbours like to gossip, when Louise North is found dead with her lover, Bernard Heller, the whole community is shocked. It is then a game of cat and mouse to determine the truth.

I am slowly working through Rendell's back catalogue on Audible, so it's a huge treat to hear the stories instead of reading them.

Simon Russell Beale is a sublime narrator and able to portray a huge range of characters. More please.

7 people found this helpful

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Superb

This is a super example of RRs work and of its time. Beautifully narrated as ever.
Ps I don't think I'd be spoiling the plot when I question why the book summary details ask whether Susan is a ....murderer. Never once throughout the book is it implied or suggested that she is,could be or is in anyway the murderer. May I suggest that summary writers READ the book?

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting and compelling

The narration was excellent. Having listened to many of Barbara Vine's/Ruth Rendell's stories I felt I could tell this one was an early one. Some of the writing was self consciously 'writerly'. But the plot kept me guessing to the end.

2 people found this helpful

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An excellent listen

The hardback can be a confusing read, but in the hands of an experienced narrator, it is a delight. SRB enjoys the characters, giving each of them life. The numerous ladies are distinctive, and when later they appear, are immediately recognisable.
Rendell’s style and SRB’s craft are a perfect match.

2 people found this helpful

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Ruth Rendell at her best

Ruth Rendell is a master at characters. This book held my attention throughout
thoroughly enjoyed it

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Weak female characters

Female characters were weak, especially the main one. It was hard to believe this lack of curiosity and intelligence. Otherwise we'll written and interesting story.

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This never really gets off the ground.

A rather sedentary tale of what should have been an exciting foray into the depths of wickedness some people will steep to in order to get what they want. The characters were neither here nor there, and despite the good narration, they all seemed a bit weak. Not the usual suspense I have come to expect from this author. Fairly disappointed.

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Gripping and unusual

Another winner from Ruth Rendell and perfectly narrated, couldn’t stop listening and would very much recommend.

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Enjoyable

Simon Russell Beal could read the telephone directory and keep me interested - love his voice.
Excellent story.

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  • writer reviewer
  • 18-05-19

Great book!

Have always loved this story, though it is a bit old fashioned now in the 21st century. The reading by Simon Beale is excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cathy J Hunter
  • 23-06-17

Lost and found

Couldn't stay with this one. Characters were too convoluted and plot was very weak. This wasn't Rendell I have her best.

1 person found this helpful