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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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A gripping story

Love, betrayal, deception, this story had it all. I felt swept along by this story, eager to find out more as the main character uncovers the plot. Yes there is a dastardly deed as in all Ruth Rendell's books but the main character's mortality offers hope. I really enjoyed this book. It was quite like the inspector Wexford books in that the character solving the mystery is beyond reproach and balances out the evildoers.

1 person found this helpful

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Bored.

Is this a well written story? Yes.
Was it well narrated? Yes.
Was it thrilling? No.
Were there any twists? No.
Would i have been happy if I had paid for/used a credit for this book? No.
There really is no murder mystery, the characters are dull and uninteresting, there is no suspense, no plot twist, no excitement.
For me, this story seems to be following a day in the life of a miserable divorcee who happens to live next door to a house where murder was committed with a few snippets of a nosey acquaintance of the deceased engaging in some amateur sleuthing peppered in.
I have found myself more entertained reading the reviews.

1 person found this helpful

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Well worth your time .

A gentle tale and read most beautifully. There is no massive reveal rather a nuanced and tidy ending. Overall a very enjoyable listen

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Fabulous Freebie

A well written psychological thriller. I was kept happily entertained by well drawn characters who developed in interesting ways

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Lots of characters that take time to embed

As always truly enjoyable narration by Simon Russell Beale. A strangely over complicated plot that builds to a reasonable finale tipping all previous assumptions on the head. I enjoyed it and mostly followed where it was going and liked the characters of David and Susan. Set in circa 1967 with all the differences in culture to be expected…

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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