The best thing about Ruth Rendell's 1971 suspense novel One Across, Two Down are the crossword puzzle clues. The characters, the more-often-than-not unemployed Stanley, his overworked wife Vera, and Vera's mum Maud, are all quite unattractive. I wouldn't invite any of them for tea.
Stanley loves his crossword puzzles and even though he is a failure at everything else he tries to do, his grasp of the workings of the clues and answers is quite phenomenal. He attacks the daily puzzle in the paper and has volumes of completed puzzle books that he keeps in the bedroom. He even takes to making up some of his own.
The only thing he wants more than a new puzzle to work in the Daily Telegraph is the money he thinks his wife will inherit when Mother Maud dies...which she does but not in a good way and Stanley's descent into despair and insanity are not pretty to watch.
I am glad it was a short book - fewer than 200 pages.
It has been a while since I read anything by Ms. Rendell. I used to be quite a fan but eventually her books got too disturbing. I only stuck with this one because of the puzzle clues scattered throughout.
Here are a few:
Root cause of biting wit? - Wisdom tooth
Underwear for barristers? - Briefs
Frank takes a well-known stage part? - Candida
Not one of my favorites? - This book