‘The Hunters’ by Claire Messud

This is a small cheat – one of a pair of novellas published together under the title The Hunters – but I’m chancing my arm because I admire it so greatly. It’s partly the evocation of London, from the point of view of a visitor, an American academic who might rather have been wandering the towpaths of Little Venice than the more down-at-heel Kilburn streets in which he comes to rest. But it is his downstairs neighbours that really revolt him – specifically, Ridley Wandor, who cares for her unseen mother and for their pet rabbits. The narrator becomes convinced that Wandor embodies some grotesque malevolence, possibly one that will end with her murdering her mother. It’s a tale with a twist – but so much more than that

(collected in The Hunters, Picador)

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