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The Tree of Hands [Hardcover]

Ruth Rendell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1985
Once, when Benet was fourteen, she and her mother had been alone in a train carriage when she had tried to stab her with a carving knife. It has been some time since Benet had seen her mad mother so when she arrives at the airport, Benet tries not to hate her. But then the tragic death of a child begins a chain of deception, kidnap Liza and her mother have led a strange, enclosed life together in their remote home. But all this must end.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Description


"The web is spun with fiendish skill." – Observer

"Domestic dramas exploding into deaths and murders…Threads are drawn tightly together in a lethal last pattern." – Sunday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"The web is spun with fiendish skill." – Observer

"Domestic dramas exploding into deaths and murders…Threads are drawn tightly together in a lethal last pattern." – Sunday Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Like mother, like daughter Feb. 29 2004
Wow, what a book!I laughed, cried, got angry and was totally shocked at this book!The characters are so believable.Here you have this sweet, lonely woman who is trying to balance a writing carrer and raising a child on her own.Her mother: Bitter, confused and lonely herself believes that if you lose something....that's okay..."I'll get you another one."The story takes off like a roller coaster ride and ends leaving the reader totally shocked.This book would make a great motion picture!Gary
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4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful writing (if a bit bleak) Oct. 25 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book started out a bit of a "duty" read. After all, how could I call myself a dedicated mystery reader having read only one Vine/Rendell. This book won a Dagger which seemed reason enough to chose it over others by Rendell. My recollection of my earlier read (as well as the reviews of her books in general) was that her stories tend to be a bit on the bleak side. In many ways, "The Tree of Hands" is a dark and sad story.
Still, the bleakness of the story is a small price for the chance to read this intriguing tale of three lives that are at once spiraling out of control and towards each other. Most interesting is the story of Benet. When Benet's toddler son dies of illness, Benet's mentally ill mother brings home another boy of the same age. Benet is aghast but doesn't want her mother (or herself) to be arrested for kidnapping. Then she discovers the child has been abused. At the same time, the boyfriend of the biological mother is falsely accused of the boy's murder and we watch his world unravel. A third plot is added latter which is more tangentially related.
Rendell spins this tale in a way that captured even me, a reluctant reader. In one sense it was a depressing read but at the same time I was captivated and eager to read another chapter. "The Tree of Hands" is hardly a conventional murder mystery but it is an excellant example of pyschological suspense.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ruth Rendell excells again! Sept. 29 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Those who love Ruth Rendell can enter her world again. Enter via
Benet's world, a world about to be shattered. Benet is an author and single mother who has created a life for herself and her 18-month old son. She has managed to come to terms with her past i.e.growing up with a self-centered, mentally unstable mother and ending an unsuitable relationship with the father of her child.
Her child, James, is pivotal to her existence. She encounters Rendellesque situations i.e. being emotionally torn between her mother and child, having the one ripped away and the other intensifying the pain yet ironically leading her to her salvation, having to choose between her newly-found soulmate and the child, being torn between what is legally and morally right as opposed to what is emotionally right.
Perhaps the ending could have been better but then book endings are often not as good as the rest of the book deserves. Perhaps it is merely the fact that a good book has ended that makes one feel a little "empty" at the end.
Read it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars another rendell gem Jan. 19 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Rendell's middle period books are some of her finest. None of her books should EVER go out of print. Reading her is being drawn into a world you can see feel and touch and what's best she lets you see the inside of peoples' minds and souls. In this book, she describes Mopsa, the severly mentally ill mother of Benet, as well as any psychologist could, better even,in her portrayal of the thousand and one little quirks that make Mopsa a Monster. (which she is). The plot is gripping, but most important Rendell knows her characters inside out so you can truly understand why people do the terrible cruel stupid things they do, most importantly when they are doing them out of love or fear or greed. You wil not be sorry you read this book, if you like psychological suspense.
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