Author: Ruth Barbara Rendell
Dates: 17 February 1930
Title of Book: Thirteen Steps Down
Mix was standing where the street should have been. Or where he thought it should have been. By this time shock and disbelief were past. Bitter disappointment, then rage, filled his body and climbed into his throat, half choking him. How dared they? How could they, whoever they were, destroy what should have been a national monument? The house itself should have been a museum, one of those blue plaques high up on its wall, the garden, lovingly preserved just as it was, part of a tour visiting parties could have made. If they had wanted a curator they need have looked no further than him.
Everything was new, carefully and soullessly designed. ‘Soulless’ – that was the word and he was proud of himself for thinking it up. The place was pretty, he thought in disgust, typical yuppie-land building. The petunias in the flowerbeds particularly enraged him. Of course he knew that some time back before he was born they had changed the name from Rillington Place to Ruston Close but now there wasn’t even a Ruston Close any more. He had brought an old map with him but it was useless, harder to find the old streets than searching for the child features in the fifty-year-old face. Fifty years was right. It would be half a century since Reggie was caught and hanged. If they had to rename the streets, surely they could have put up a sign somewhere which said, Formerly Rillington Place. Or something to tell visitors they were in Reggie country. Hundreds must come here, some of them expectant and deeply disappointed, others knowing nothing of the place’s history, all of them encountering this smart little enclave of red brick and raised flowerbeds, geraniums and busy lizzies spilling out of window-boxes, and trees chosen for their golden and creamy white foliage.
Brief Biography: Rendell is the creator of Chief Inspector Wexford. She has been influential in developing the genre of crime-fiction that explores the psychology of both the criminals and their victims. Rendell also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.