A Judgement in Stone (1977) begins by breaking the rules of a crime novel. In the opening sentence the reader is told the full extent of the crime, the murder of the whole Coverdale family, the murderer, Eunice Parchman, and why she did it: because she could not read and write. Where the traditional crime story starts with a puzzle, this novel begins with a solution. Only it is not so simple. Rendell compounds her challenge to generic boundaries by revealing at once what many of her novels build to at the conclusion, the mysterious nature of crime, motivation and desire. How can illiteracy lead to murder? A Judgement in Stone proceeds to show us.
The fateful collision between Eunice and the …
Rowland, Susan A.. "A Judgement in Stone". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 October 2006
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