Goodreads rating: 3.92/5 (1,600+ ratings)
My rating: 5/10
First published: 2nd May 1977 by Hutchison
Genre: Crime, Mystery
A Judgement in Stone is a really quick read. To be honest, you can almost figure out the entire story just from reading the back and the first sentence, which is ”Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write“. It’s set in the 1970s, and is acclaimed as being an accurate examination of the differences of social classes in Britain at this time.
It revolves around The Coverdales – a well-to-do English family, and their housemaid Eunice Parchman, who murders them on Valentines Day (this isn’t a spoiler; it’s on the back cover!). Eunice clearly has many issues, aside from her illiteracy, and constantly misinterprets and misreads social cues or comments made by the family.
I feel bad for giving this book only 5/10, but I’ve done so because I felt that there was no mystery, even though it’s meant to be a Crime/Mystery novel, and Rendell has been named by Time Magazine as “.. the best mystery writer in the English speaking world.” I will definitely read another one of her books, but I think i’m too accustomed to Agatha Christie‘s style of mystery that I found no actual mystery in this book. However, I feel like there’s something obvious i’m missing about A Judgement in Stone, as i’ve read a few great things about the book, and how it’s been described as ‘haunting’ and ‘chilling’ – which I didn’t feel at all.
The characters are all well developed, and are interesting characters, but I felt that I was constantly waiting for something to happen, and nothing that wasn’t on the back cover ever did happen. With 20 pages to go, my mum asked me if I liked it, and I said that I still wasn’t sure if I did and that it depended what happened in the last 20 pages… and nothing of excitement happened!
I liked Rendell’s writing style though, so if anyone has any recommendations of a favourite book of hers I’d be keen to hear about them!