A Demon in my View is a novel by British author Ruth Rendell. First published in 1976, it won the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year, gaining Rendell the first of six Dagger awards she received during her career, more than any other writer.
A rigid man of fifty leads a solitary, apparently respectable life, as clerk and bookkeeper for a small business and part-time rent collector for his landlord. He has rented a flat in the building for twenty years because deep in its cellar, unbeknownst to anyone else, is a mannequin that he periodically "strangles" in order to satisfy his homicidal urges. The figure's location in the cellar, the darkness, the furtiveness, all are essential to the solitary man's satisfaction. The tenuous mental equilibrium he has been able to maintain is threatened when a young man, healthy in mind and body, a doctoral candidate in psychology, becomes a roomer in the house. Danger the older man senses from the moment the new tenant appears is horribly realized for him when the young man finds the mannequin and uses it as the figure in the bonfire at the Guy Fawkes Night celebration he has organized for the local children. The respectable...