As someone who has loved British crime writer Rendell´s books for ages (more than two decades I believe), it was a matter of course that I had to buy and read Portobello.
“Street markets abounded in the area, in Kenley Street, Sirdar Road, Norland Road, Crescent Street and Golborne Road. The one to survive was the Portobello … The Portobello has a rich personality, vibrant, brilliant in colour, noisy, with graffiti that approach art, bizarre and splendid. An indefinable edge to it adds a spice of danger.”
Rendell offers a lively and engaged portrait of the Portobello area with many fine characters. We meet Eugene Wren, the secretive owner of a fairly successful gallery who is about to marry Ella, Joel Roseman, a young man who is being haunted by his imaginary friend, and Lance Platt, an unemployed, lazy scoundrel who believes society owes him a decent living.
In spite of the fine language, the vivid setting and some interesting characters, the story did not really grab me. There is enough of a crime plot in it to warrant the label crime story, but it sort of peters out in the last chapters.