Dark Corners

A Novel

Dark Corners

“A spectacularly creepy and macabre tale” (Entertainment Weekly) of blackmail, murders both accidental and opportunistic, and of one life’s fateful unraveling—from Ruth Rendell, “one of the most remarkable novelists of her generation” (People), writing at her most mesmerizing. Rendell completed Dark Corners shortly before her death in 2015.

When his father dies, Carl Martin inherits a house in an increasingly rich and trendy London neighborhood. Cash poor, Carl rents the upstairs room and kitchen to the first person he interviews, Dermot McKinnon. That is mistake number one. Mistake number two is keeping the bizarre collection of homeopathic and alternative “cures” that his father left in the medicine cabinet, including a stash of controversial diet pills. Mistake number three is selling fifty of those diet pills to a friend, who is then found dead.

Dermot seizes a nefarious opportunity and begins to blackmail Carl, refusing to pay rent, and creepily invading Carl’s space. Ingeniously weaving together two storylines that finally merge in a shocking turn, Ruth Rendell describes one man’s spiral into darkness—and murder—as he falls victim to a diabolical foe he cannot escape.

This is brilliant psychological suspense that gets under your skin. As Stephen King says, “No one surpasses Ruth Rendell when it comes to stories of obsession, instability, and malignant coincidence.” Dark Corners, her last book, “ranks among her best” (The Washington Post).
This Edition:
9781501119439 Trade Paperback $16.00 Scribner November 15, 2016
Other US Editions:
9781501119422 Hardcover $26.00 Scribner October 27, 2015
9781501119446 eBook $11.99 Scribner October 27, 2015
9781442391352 Unabridged Audio Download $23.99 Simon & Schuster Audio October 27, 2015
Retailers for Trade Paperback:
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Dark Corners includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Carl Martin has inherited his father’s home in an increasingly rich and trendy London neighborhood. Strapped for cash and at work on his second novel, Carl rents the upper flat to his first interviewee: Dermot McKinnon. Looking for some quick money until the next rent check arrives, Carl sells diet pills he found in one of his father’s cluttered medicine cabinets to a friend who is soon found dead in her flat. Having lurked around the corner and eavesdropped on the sale, Dermot seizes the opportunity to blackmail Carl, refusing to pay rent. Fear soars and guilt festers until Carl’s life becomes unbearable. Obsession consumes him, pushing him to become an entirely different person, driven by deadly acts.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Dermot does not like that Carl calls him a blackmailer (p. 53). Instead Dermot thinks of himself as “the reverse of a blackmailer.” How does Dermot’s view of himself shape his actions toward Carl? What effect does Rendell’s choice to write this scene from Dermot’s see more

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About the Author

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell (1930–2015) won three Edgar Awards, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writ­ers’ Association. Her remarkable career spanned a half century, with more than sixty books published. A member of the House of Lords, she was one of the great literary figures of our time.


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