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Publisher's Summary

Safe houses and secret message drops, double crosses and defections - it sounds like the stuff of sophisticated espionage, but these agents are only schoolboys engaged in harmless play. Not that John Creevey knows this. To him, the messages he decodes with painstaking care are the communications of dangerous and evil men, and as he comes face to face with the fact of his beloved wife Jennifer's defection, he begins to see a way to get back at the man she left him for. Safe houses and secret message drops, double crosses and defections - it sounds like the stuff of sophisticated espionage, but these agents are only schoolboys engaged in harmless play. Not that John Creevey knows this. To him, the messages he decodes with painstaking care are the communications of dangerous and evil men, and as he comes face to face with the fact of his beloved wife Jennifer's defection, he begins to see a way to get back at the man she left him for. Soon the schoolboys are playing more than just a game.

©1980 Kingsmarkham Enterprises Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Linda
  • Colebrook, NH, United States
  • 03-18-12

Talking to Strange Men

Too strange for me. Strange kids, strange John. It was difficult to get into the story and once I was there, disliked the strange story as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping and subtle

What a gem this is! My favorite Rendell; the characters and plotting are superb, the suspense mounts to a smashing denouement.

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dawn
  • 05-13-17

Not Rendell's best

I've listened to most of Ruth Rendell's books and enjoyed most of them. This one was a disappointment. It started off okay, but it quickly became quite mundane. I saw it through to the end thinking the storyline may develop and become more interesting, it didn't.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Susan Random
  • 01-31-16

Talking To Strange Men

Having read this novel in hardback many years ago, I half knew what to expect. The two parallel storylines concerned the loss of John's sister, Cherry, years ago when she was murdered beside the bridge and the more recent desertion of his wife, Jennifer, in favour of her former lover, Peter Moran. In addition, there is a public school spy network operating in the town, spearheaded by Mungo Cameron.

Did I enjoy this book? Well, it was deftly plotted, but I really did find it difficult to get into at times. I also kept muddling up the various schoolboys and their underworld aliases. It was also set in a place, which remained un-named and rather anonymous.

Special mention must be of the novel's narrator, who was brilliantly versatile.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • oceanjasper
  • 01-22-17

Unexpected and suspenseful.

What I like about Ruth Rendell books is that I never know what will happen. She creates a cast of varied characters and the interactions between them, plus some chance events, creates an intriguing journey.

This book has two different worlds: that of John Creevey, a lonely man with a simple, mundane life and the group of public school boys who play an elaborate spy game. Those worlds overlap by accident, sparking an unpredictable chain of events.

I liked the way that Rendell takes her time in letting us get to know the characters. Not every story thread leads somewhere, which adds to the unpredictability of it all.

Christian Rodska's narration is excellent, very crisp and conversational. The voices of the different characters are well differentiated, although it was a bit tricky to keep track of all the schoolboys' names in the beginning. Listening to the story now brought back nostalgia for the Cold War spy thrillers I used to read, back during the actual Cold War.

This was a really enjoyable listening experience.