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by Ruth Rendell. Audio read by Carole Boyd

2*

There’s something terribly old fashioned about this book: the language, the situations, the characters, even the way the pub seems to be at the centre of everyone’s social life – it all has the feeling of something written in the eighties or earlier, it certainly doesn’t feel like it was written this century. Just one (of many) examples of this is the misuse and misunderstanding of the role of the mobile phone. Having placed a mobile right at the heart of the story, Ruth Rendell then has a 22 year old character desperately waiting for the paper to come out in order to catch the news. Never once does Montserrat check her phone for an update or even check her texts.

All the young people are wrong, VERY wrong, they don’t feel real at all. The older characters are more believable but the thing as a whole is not good. Too many loose ends are not tied up, too many things simply don’t add up, too many things aren’t explained because they can’t be explained. I hesitate to give specific details because I’m sure there are people who do want to hear this audio and I don’t want to spoil their fun, but there are far too many badly-thought out, unimaginative and lazy details in this story.

None of the characters were especially well-drawn, but there seemed to me something particularly off about the minorities, those who were ethnically or mentally ‘different’. I don’t really know quite what it was that bothered me, nothing concrete, just something in the tone, something dreadfully caricature that left me with a rather uncomfortable feeling. It was just one more thing to dislike in this generally lacklustre telling of a mundane tale.

The audiobook is read by Carole Boyd, aka Linda Snell, a voice instantly recognisable to anyone who follows The Archers; she does her best with the material she’s been given.

I didn’t hate The St. Vita Society, but I didn’t much like it either; it didn’t rouse any strong emotions in me. In short, it was predictable, unremarkable, bog-standard and disappointing.

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