In which we’re discussing villainy

This one’s pretty spoilerific, chickens, so if you haven’t finished A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS, you might want to give this one a pass.

Specifically, we’re talking about Rex’s villainy. Reader Julie wanted to know if Rex is a killer or if Helen was the guilty party. I think that depends on how you assign blame. Strictly speaking, the deeds are Rex’s. But what Rex does is at Helen’s behest, and she makes it clear that she is in control of him–or at least she believes that she is. Their relationship, dysfunctional to outsiders like Delilah, works for them. Rex tolerates her sexual misdeeds while she abets his political ambitions. She is also far more realistic about his chances of success, and she takes steps to protect them both by insisting he get rid of the threat to their security. She’s also arguably more ruthless than Rex, perfectly willing to let an innocent party go to prison for Farraday crimes. Helen has directed their relationship from the beginning, making up her mind to marry Rex long before it occurred to him. She has organized their lives, giving him an illusion of control but orchestrating the things that matter to her. They’re the sort of couple who need each other to fully realize their ambitions, and their dysfunction actually works for them, albeit in a twisted way.

Note: leaving for NYC, so please come join me for A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS festivities at Lady Jane’s on Monday and with Lauren Willig at Mysterious Bookshop on Tuesday! Details on the Tours page.

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