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1. Portobello: A Novel
2. Face of Trespass
3. Shake Hands Forever
4. From Doon with Death: The First
5. Murder Being Once Done
6. The Monster in the Box: An Inspector
7. The Lake of Darkness
8. Harm Done: A New Inspector Wexford
9. A Judgement in Stone
10. Some Lie and Some Die (An Inspector
11. Best Man to Die (Chief Inspector
12. Not in the Flesh (Vintage Crime/Black
13. Make Death Love ME
14. Speaker of Mandarin: An Inspector
15. Simisola (Best Seller) (Spanish
16. No More Dying Then
17. Road Rage (A Chief Inspector Wexford
18. The Fever Tree and Other Stories
19. Put on by Cunning
20. Kissing the Gunner's Daughter:

1. Portobello: A Novel
by Ruth Rendell
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2010-09-07)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$10.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439148511
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Ruth Rendell is widely considered to be crime fiction’s reigning queen, with a remarkable career spanning more than forty years. Now, in Portobello, she delivers a captivating and intricate tale that weaves together the troubled lives of several people in the gentrified neighborhood of London’s Notting Hill.Walking to the shops one day, fifty-year-old Eugene Wren discovers an envelope on the street bulging with cash. A man plagued by a shameful addiction—and his own good intentions—Wren hatches a plan to find the money’s rightful owner. Instead of going to the police, or taking the cash for himself, he prints a notice and posts it around Portobello Road. This ill-conceived act creates a chain of events that links Wren to other Londoners—people afflicted with their own obsessions and despairs. As these volatile characters come into Wren’s life—and the life of his trusting fiancée—the consequences will change them all.

Portobello is a wonderfully complex tour de force featuring a dazzling depiction of one of London’s most intriguing neighborhoods—and the dangers beneath its newly posh veneer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Book Unsure of Itself
I read a fair amount of crime fiction, and tend to favor British crime fiction over that from my native country. However, I'm fairly sure I've never read anything by Rendell, who is widely acknowledged as one of the genre's current masters. So I picked up her latest in an attempt to see what all the fuss is about. The book uses that kind of loose "intersecting lives" form that was in vogue in the film world 5-10 years ago (the most immediate example being the vastly overrated Crash). The story takes place in the titular London neighborhood, zooming in on the lives of a wealthy middle-aged art dealer and his doctor girlfriend, a rather stupid and callow unemployed young hoodlum and his ex-girlfriend and nasty sanctimonious ex-con uncle, and a very strange young man who spends most of his life barricaded in his dark apartment.finally,

As is the format of these kind of things, the lives of these six characters come together by coincidence and then intersect with and influence each other in direct and indirect ways. However, the entire enterprise is rather adrift. It's sort of a crime story in that there are crimes (theft, burglary, arson, murder), but they aren't really the point of the story, They are merely catalysts that allow the reader to ponder the divide between the two wealthy characters and the three poor characters. The book is also a psychological thriller of sorts in the portions following the strange young man who's afraid of the light, but that whole plotline is a total dud and feels very much like a unfinished idea grafted on from some other project. The storyline involving the gormless young man contains at least the potential of being an interesting commentary on gentrification, but this weird dude who thinks an angel lives with him really doesn't fit the story at all.

Interestingly, the element that many reviewers rail against is the one piece of the book I quite liked. This is the art dealer's addiction to an artificially flavored sweet called "Chocorange" -- an addiction so powerful that it threatens to destroy his entire life. Over the years, he has addiction-hopped, from various forms of drugs to others, down to cigarettes, then to booze, and now, finally, to Chocorange. Obvious it's not a physical addiction, it's all in his head, and that's what makes it compelling, as he struggles to control and hide it. Unfortunately, that is the most interesting aspect of the story, which otherwise meanders around without the sharp twists and subtle turns I had led to believe Rendell was so expert at. It's really quite a sloppy work, Rendell seems to have muddled some of the dates in part of the plot and has a character knowing these dates without ever explaining why (or at least as far as I could tell, having gone back to reread bits to see if I'd missed a page). And the surprisingly sentimental resolution (which most readers will see coming miles away) depends on lame coincidence of one character being the patient of the art dealer's girlfriend. So -- the extraneous storyline, meandering writing, total lack of suspense, overreliance on coincidence, and mawkish ending all combine to make this a dud for me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another example of Rendell's versatility as a writer
While I can't say that this is the best book I've read by Rendell, I still feel compelled to give it a 5 star review. Tightly written, the quirky setting (Portobello Road, of course), brings together a diverse group of people who connect to each other in often startling and unexpected ways. My favorite character was Eugene Wren, a man who is ashamed of an addiction that many readers might find laughable - and there is indeed humor in his particular craving. At the same time, the seemingly harmless addiction provides insight into Eugene's secretive nature. He is quickly heading towards marriage with his girlfriend, Ella, but the couple has no idea that Eugene's secret will lead to a crisis. It seems barely credible but Rendell makes it totally plausible, given Eugene's psychology.

Meanwhile, a cast of other characters on Portobello Read, from criminals to those trying to lead exemplary lives, reveal Rendell's trademark style and ability to provide clues to the inner life of her characters -what motivates them, their fears, greed, lusts, and loves. This is a relatively swift read but full of substance. I enjoy the author's lengthier works but was not disappointed in this sparer offering. Every word counts here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rendell At Her Finest
Portobello is set in and named after one of my favorite parts of London, the Portobello Road market and surrounding neighborhood, where every sort of ware and person imaginable are to be found.Rendell follows her usual formula of assembling a group of seemingly disparate characters, some prosperous middle class and others poor and living on the dole, and weaving a complex web of interconnections around them.

Although some of the characters in Portobello aren't especially admirable (a few are utterly despicable), Rendell is able to make us care about and be intrigued by them.Portobello will remain in my memory for a long time, and I intend to reread and savor it often.

5-0 out of 5 stars The juxtaposition between her text's dispassion and her characters' varying obsessions is chilling
In several dozen previous novels, Ruth Rendell has demonstrated equal facility in writing police procedurals (with her beloved Inspector Wexford mysteries) and sinister psychological suspense (in her novels written under the pen name "Barbara Vine"). She also has continued to craft superb suspense novels under her own name, and the latest such book is PORTOBELLO.

Named for (and set largely in the neighborhood of) one of London's most famous roads and markets, PORTOBELLO begins --- as the best suspense novels often do --- innocently enough, with a colorful description of the neighborhood's equally lively milieu: "You can buy anything there. Everything on earth is on sale: furniture, antiques, clothes, bedding, hardware, music, food and food and more food. Vegetables and fruit, meat and fish, and cheese and chocolate... You can buy a harp there or a birdcage, a stuffed bear or a wedding dress, or the latest bestseller.... The moment you turn out of Pembridge Road or Westbourne Grove or Chepstow Villas and set foot in the market, you feel a touch of excitement, an indrawing of breath, a pinch in the heart. And once you have been, you have to go again.... Its thread attaches itself to you and a twitch on it summons you to return."

Like many of the most colorful, historical and fascinating neighborhoods, though, Portobello Road is suffering something of an identity crisis. Living cheek-by-jowl with long-time residents --- shopkeepers, blue-collar workers and petty criminals --- many of them are young up-and-comers, gentrifying their adopted neighborhood and expecting certain levels of both comfort and safety that its more historical denizens might not be willing to grant them yet.

For the most part, these varied populations manage to ignore each other, but sometimes circumstances draw them together in surprising ways. When a young man named Joel Roseman, estranged from his wealthy father, loses a cash-filled envelope on the Portobello Road, a well-to-do art dealer named Eugene Wren finds the money when out on his daily quest to fulfill his addiction to a particular brand of sweets. He places an advertisement and receives two responses: one from a small-time crook who needs the cash to stave off the thugs who are threatening him, and the other from Joel Roseman himself, who quickly develops a bizarre fixation with Eugene's beautiful girlfriend.

As circumstances escalate and coincidences generate surprising connections, these characters from very different backgrounds and with very different agendas soon find themselves being drawn together --- as if by that invisible thread again --- in unlikely and potentially explosive ways. Old habits die hard, apparently, and the neighborhood's new inhabitants soon discover that Portobello Road, despite its skyrocketing rents and film-set geography, still retains more than a bit of its gritty past.

What makes Rendell's novels gripping, besides her facility for portraying characters with truly unsetting quirks, is the contrast between the razor-sharp precision, and the crispness and care of her language, with the truly disturbing situations and ugly motivations about which she writes. This juxtaposition between her text's dispassion and her characters' varying obsessions is chilling to read and fascinating to consider. And although readers will come away from PORTOBELLO with a certain understanding of this famous London neighborhood, they'll not soon forget its darker side.

--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl

5-0 out of 5 stars disfunctional characters
Rendell is a master of provocation:she provokes the reader to a silent argument with her characters - you idiots, just get with it, pay attention to what you are doing!And she provides more than enough provocation for her characters to show off their most disagreeable - and dangerous - features. ... Read more

2. Face of Trespass
by Ruth Rendell
 Hardcover: Pages (1995-03)
list price: US$23.95
Isbn: 0848806174
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
He had been a promising young novelist when he met Drusilla.Their affair was now over, but the slide into violence had just begun. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Rendell Classic
Finally, this early Rendell masterpiece is available on Kindle! This short novel is classic Rendell: beautifully plotted, engrossing, written in Rendell's hallmark style that one can recognize among hundreds of authors. Rendell is adept at creating nueanced and complex characters her readers are not likely to forget for years to come.

In THE FACE OF TRESPASS, she takes us deep into the mind of a man obsessed with the loss of a woman he loves. Almost the entire first half of the book Graham stays in an abandoned hovel in a tiny village, speaking with no one and seeing no one. Still, every page of his story is fascinating. There is very little action here, and definitely no car chases, gory details of murders, dismembered victims, and order things today's authors love to pile up in order to attract their readers. Rendell's talent is such that she doesn't need these gimmicks to make her novels impossible to put down. She offers an unrivalled psychological insight into the personality of her main character. The seemingly benign setting of her novel conceals a dreadful sense of impending disaster.

In short, this is a great novel that can be read and re-read as many times as one wishes and still remain enjoyable.

4-0 out of 5 stars A slow start, but definitely early Rendell at her best
This is the first stand alone book without Inspector Wexford written under Ruth Rendell's name that I've read, and I am astonished at the different style of writing as compared to the police procedurals with Wexford and to the novels under the Barbara Vine psuedonym.I did find the main character unsympathetic to begin with, but warmed to him as the story progressed and as I caught on to what was truly happening.And I was quite satisfied with the final epilog.This definitely is a book worth searching for.

3-0 out of 5 stars If you can stick with it, it pays off
This book gets going very, very slowly, as if it were a twentieth-century imitation of Crime and Punishment (which it in some ways resembles).I would have abandoned it long short of the ending if I hadn't already read enough Rendells to expect it to pay off in the end.And it does pay off, though I'm still not sure I would have begun to read it had I known how long it would take to hook me.The protagonist's long brooding is a good fifty pages too long for my tastes; this is a short novel that would have worked just as well, if not better, as a short story.I was about to say, "I don't care what happens to the main character, let alone about anyone else in this story," when the impending twist finally popped up.So if you've started this one, hang in there; the good part does finally arrive.If you haven't started this one, read Judgement in Stone instead.

4-0 out of 5 stars I'm not disappointed in the quality of the item, but the thing is that I thought I was buying a hardback book. Not pleased.
This message is to Amazon.com and their program for selecting used books for purchase. Something goes haywire somewhere after I select a list of used hardbacks. Every selection should have a label as to whether it is hardback or paperback, if you're going to put them together! This is the second time that this has happened to me and I don't like it.

This product was shipped to me quickly and there isn't anything wrong with its quality. The problem is in the selection process and Amazon.com is responsible for this mix-up. Please do something about this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book was excellent.I had not read anything else by the author prior to this point, but look forward to reading more of her works.The plot twists are amazing.I knew that something was going to happen, and it was going to be bad...but didn't know what.Which is surprising nowadays because so many books are so easy to figure out half way through.The characters are wonderful too. ... Read more

3. Shake Hands Forever
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 192 Pages (2000-07)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704957
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The bed was neatly made, and the woman on top neatly strangled.

According to all accounts, Angela Hathall was deeply in love with her husband and far too paranoid to invite an unknown person into their home. So who managed to gain entry and strangle her without a struggle? That is the problem facing Inspector Wexford in Shake Hands Forever. Perhaps it was the mystery woman who left her fingerprints on the Hathall's bathtub? Perhaps it was Angela's husband who lied about a stolen library book? And why was the Hathall home, usually so unkempt, exqisitely clean the day of Angela's death? Then a neighbor--friendly, knowing, disarmingly beautiful--offers Wexford her assistance. And what begins as a rather tricky case turns into an obsession that threatens to destroy the Inspector's career--as well as his marriage.

Maddeningly addictive, smart and surprising, Shake Hands Forever showcases Ruth Rendell at the height of her storytelling powers.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

3-0 out of 5 stars Surprising ending
I couldn't really like the protagonists in this book but the ending was a total shock. It's a good book but not the greatest.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Decent Addition to the Series
Even though this is not one of the best Inspector Wexford mysteries, it is still pretty good. The mystery itself here is not as well-plotted and full of fascinating twists as in most other books in the series. Another feature of Rendell's novels, a collection of quirky, unusual characters, is also absent. SHAKE HANDS FOREVER is thin on psychological insights into the minds of its characters but it does offer an unusually profound understanding of the psyche of Inspector Wexford himself. In this novel, we see him in some very unusual situations and get to know him a lot better than before. For this reason, I believe that this is a crucial novel to read if you want to gain a deeper understanding of the series.

In this novel, Wexford believes he knows who the murderer is almost from the very start of his investigation. The only problem, though, is that nobody else shares his conviction that the person in question is guilty. The suspect has an unshakeable alibi and isn't averse to complaining to Wexford's authorities that he is being persecuted unjustly by Wexford. As a result, Wexford has to stop the official inquiry into this murder. When he finds out that the person he suspects is about to emigrate to another country, Wexford becomes obsessed with bringing his suspect to justice before the day of the departure.

We get to see Wexford in a situation where the power to conduct an investigation is stripped away from him. Nobody except his nephew Howard shares his conviction in the suspect's guilt and is willing to help. Wexford goes to extreme length to bring the suspected murderer to justice. In many of Rendell's novels we read masterful psychological descriptions of various characters falling apart or coming to the brink of insanity. In SHAKE HANDS FOREVER, Wexford is the person who goes through that process. It's fascinating to observe a character who is known so well by the fans of the series gradually lose his calm self-assurance and all of the values he has lived by his entire life. This is the dark side of Wexford that even the hardcore lovers of these series will find quite unexpected.

I wouldn't suggest this as the first Inspector Wexford mystery to read. Unless you are pretty familiar with the series, I believe this novel will leave you cold and wondering why so many people go crazy about Ruth Rendell.

A couple of words need to be added about the Kindle edition of this book. It saddens me to report that the Kindle version of this novel is extremely poor and is plagued with typos. "I'm" appears, more often than not, as "Fm." The last name "Hathall" is often given as "HathaU." There were several words in the text I didn't even manage to decipher, even though I had read the novel before in paper format. Among all books by Rendell that have appeared in Kindle format so far, this one is of the poorest quality.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the very best early Ruth Rendell mysteries
This novel has authoress Rendell at the top of her early form the opening description of the mother coming to visit her son and his 2nd wife, a wife the mother is merrily looking forward to debase.. until the clever and unexpected solution more than a year later.

4-0 out of 5 stars Shake Hands Forever
This is one of Rendell's earlier books in the Inspector Wexford series and it is good reading.A woman is found murdered and Wexford suspects her husband, but he has an alibi.Then the murder suspect complains that Wexford is harassing him, and Wexford is told to back off.The case drags on for a year with Wexford investigating on his own time.There is a strange twist at the end.Anyone who enjoys reading Rendell's Inspector Wexford series will enjoy this well-crafted mystery.

3-0 out of 5 stars Poor Kindle Version
This was my first Ruth Rendell novel. I was enjoying the book, or at least trying to, but the numerous typos made it impossible. The story started off well, I was really enjoying Wexford as a character, but the sheer amount of typos in this book was distracting to the point where I just gave up. I am a prolific reader and it is very hard for me to not finish a book, I rarely do it, even if the book is bad, but I couldn't even concentrate on the content. It became a chore, and reading should NEVER be a chore. So I gave up. I've read many books on my Kindle and never had this problem before and hopefully won't again. I plan on picking the book up in paper back just so I can finish the story, but shame on whoever is responsilbe for this jumbled mess. ... Read more

4. From Doon with Death: The First Inspector Wexford Novel (Mortalis)
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 240 Pages (2007-06-26)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345498453
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Dazzling psychological suspense. Razor-sharp dialogue. Plots that catch and hold like a noose. These are the hallmarks of crime legend Ruth Rendell, “the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world” (Time magazine). From Doon with Death, now in a striking new paperback edition, is her classic debut novel -- and the book that introduced one of the most popular sleuths of the twentieth century.

There is nothing extraordinary about Margaret Parsons, a timid housewife in the quiet town of Kingsmarkham, a woman devoted to her garden, her kitchen, her husband. Except that Margaret Parsons is dead, brutally strangled, her body abandoned in the nearby woods.

Who would kill someone with nothing to hide? Inspector Wexford, the formidable chief of police, feels baffled -- until he discovers Margaret's dark secret: a trove of rare books, each volume breathlessly inscribed by a passionate lover identified only as Doon. As Wexford delves deeper into both Mrs. Parsons’ past and the wary community circling round her memory like wolves, the case builds with relentless momentum to a surprise finale as clever as it is blindsiding.

In From Doon with Death, Ruth Rendell instantly mastered the form that would become synonymous with her name. Chilling, richly characterized, and ingeniously constructed, this is psychological suspense at its very finest.

“One of the most remarkable novelists of her generation.” —People

“She has transcended her genre by her remarkable imaginative power to explore and illuminate the dark corners of the human psyche.” —P.D. James ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Exceptional enjoyment
Unlike other reviewers, I did not find this book dull or uninteresting.My word for it would be comfortable.There is nothing to try and figure out except, of course, who is the murderer.

The characters are very well defined and the plot is straight forward.All you have to do is arrange yourself comfortably and read --a couple of hours will do it-- a fairly short book by today's standards---coming in at a little over 200 pages.

Even after 50 years or so, the story is still interesting but only mildly shocking.Reading so much of Rendell and being bored out of my skull when she launches into politics etc, I felt happy the whole time reading this short book.It took me back to a time when reading for pleasure was just that--pleasure.There are no hidden agendas or causes to hawk, just a nice little English village murder with a small cast of suspects.(Somewhat like a neat little Christie novel)

Loved it!!

2-0 out of 5 stars From Doon: Well written but predictable

For well over thirty years I have been reading novels by Ruth Rendell and her nom de plume. Spotting FROM DOON WITH DEATH on the bookshelves, I was thrilled to come across one of her early works.Excitement and anticipation, however, soon led to a perfunctory interest.Rendell is an excellent writer, skilled at her craft, but early on it wasn't difficult to identify who Doon was.The suspense was therefore muted and the denouement all too predictable. Had her characters been more complex, this aspect would have at the very least sustained my interest.As it is, they all seemed rather superficially developed, and finally uninteresting.

3-0 out of 5 stars How did Rendell make her mark with this bland first effort?
Rendell, now a Life Peer, has long been a much bigger deal in the U.K. than in the U.S. I've read several of her non-series novels and never really understood why she was considered something special. Her longest running and most successful series features Chief Inspector Wexford of the Sussex market town of Kingsmarkham, and this is his first outing. I had avoided Wexford so far, but the reviews of Rendell's latest book intimate that he's about to retire, so I thought I'd give him a shot and that means beginning at the beginning. Kingsmarkham is largely a rural moneyed suburb of London, less than an hour away, but the town has its grayer side, too. That part of the town includes Mrs. Margaret Parsons, reported missing by her fretful husband, whose body is discovered in a wood near a farm just outside of town. Wexford and his loyal sidekick, Inspector Mike Burden, investigate the case, beginning with locating the owner of a rather unusual and pricey lipstick found near the body. The net widens to include the rather slutty wife of a car dealer and a county barrister and his wife. And there are Margaret's old school chums from her previous residence in the town. Wexford himself can be both poetically intuitive and loudly crude, and not a lot of his background comes through -- but this is his first novel and Rendell will have plenty of time to develop him. The solution to the crime revolves on a relationship that was shocking and unexpected even in 1965, but which today would scarcely raise an eyebrow -- which means I had it figured out halfway through. Not a bad book but badly dated. I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt and try a few more in the series.

4-0 out of 5 stars And this is only the beginning of the series
Somehow, I've missed reading any Ruth Rendell until MONSTER IN THE BOX and the most recent Barbara Vine novel.This first novel is indeed an expertly constructed police procedural with considerable heart. The characters are quite real and I will be reading this series in sequence (well, I will jump to one from the 80's only because I latched onto a copy, but otherwise will read these in sequence.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good for an early work -- in some ways, I liked it better than later works by this author
I've read a number of Rendell works, some I liked quite a lot, some I thought were just too quirky for me.Rendell's specialization in psychological mysteries is certainly foreshadowed in this book, but it's as much a police procedural as a study of character. What I found interesting were the descriptions of houses and gardens -- as though the place a person lived telegraphed their psychological characteristics.One character, for example, lives in a house in which there are no flowers in the "garden" (what Americans would call a yard, I think -- a yard or lawn without flowers wouldn't be unusual in the US but apparently is in Britain.) Still, it wasn't clear to me how that fact linked with the character of either person living in the house, other than to suggest that neither has any interest in gardening. So why the emphasis on this?

Although other reviewers have commented that it isn't difficult to guess who-done-it, I was not able to, despite being a highly experienced reader of mysteries.

The plot was engaging enough that I read it more or less straight through, but I would not say this was a five-star mystery.Because it introduces the Wexford series of one of the great mystery writers, it's well worth reading. ... Read more

5. Murder Being Once Done
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 224 Pages (1999-03-30)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704884
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A young girl is murdered in a cemetery.And Wexford's doctor has prescribed no alcohol, no rich food and, above all, no police work.When a young girl's body is found in a London cemetery and the local police, under the command of Wexford's nephew, are baffled, Wexford decides to brave his doctor's wrath and the condescension of the London police by doing a little investigating of his own. A compelling story of mysterious identity and untimely death, Murder Being Once Done is Rendell at her most sublime.

With her Inspector Wexford novels, Ruth Rendell, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, has added layers of depth, realism and unease to the classic English mystery. For the canny, tireless, and unflappable policeman is an unblinking observer of human nature, whose study has taught him that under certain circumstances the most unlikely people are capable of the most appalling crimes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Best in the Inspector Wexford Series
This is one of my favorite Inspector Wexford mysteries. For one, the officious and annoying Mike Burden isn't there, which is a relief. This novel offers a very humorous depiction of Wexford struggling to stay on his diet and off murder investigations. Of course, he can't help himself and go back to solving a murder mystery that practically falls into his lap. There are some hilarious exchanges between Wexford and his nephew who is also a police officer and whom Wexford suspects of being a snob for a while.

The mystery itself is very good. I didn't guess what was going on until the very end. The characters are quirky and fascinating. In short, this is Rendell at her best delivering one of the undisputed classics in the Inspector Wexford series.

3-0 out of 5 stars Muddled mystery with a far-fetched conclusion.
Ruth Rendell's "Murder Being Once Done," which was written in the seventies, is a flawed mystery with a few nice touches that redeem it slightly.

Inspector Wexford has not been feeling well, and he has been farmed out to his nephew's house to rest, eat right, and exercise.Wexford is supposed to avoid thinking about police work.However, there are two problems.One, Wexford is bored out of his mind.Two, his nephew is a police superintendent investigating a juicy murder.How can Wexford fail to get involved in the case?

The victim is a young woman who was found murdered in Kenbourne Vale Cemetery.Who is she and why was she killed?This woman, it turns out, was living quietly in poverty under a false name.No one knows where she came from.Wexford starts informally investigating on his own, interviewing anyone who may know something about the identity of the dead woman.

The investigation turns out to be a puzzle that challenges even Wexford's experienced and incisive mind, and he makes several wrong turns before reaching the correct conclusion.He experiences a period of self-doubt and shame when he realizes that his powers of detection may be waning somewhat.He evenconsiders the possibility that it may be time to step aside and let the younger generation take over.Wexford is a wonderful character--intelligent, charming and compassionate.It is always a pleasure to be in his company.

Unfortunately, the mystery turns out to be less involving.While looking into the case, Wexford meets a variety of people, all of whom contribute to his understanding of what happened to the dead woman.Unfortunately, the characters are not fleshed out very well and the mystery itself turns out to be too convoluted and far-fetched to be completely satisfying.On the plus side, Rendell's description of settings is detailed and vivid and she beautifully captures Wexford's torment as he tries to deal with his mortality and his imperfections."Murder Being Once Done" is not a great mystery, but it is a good study of a policeman who is desperately trying to prove that he still has what it takes to break a case.

4-0 out of 5 stars Back to His Beef
As always, Reg Wexford, an older police Chief Inspector from rural England, will manage to take your breath away through his amazing ability to overcome weakness and always come out on top of the case at hand. Ruth Rendell is brilliant, introducing her readers to new characters while intertwining the old, steady ones.Inspector Wexford, one of Rendell's regulars, is visiting his nephew Howard, a Detective Superintendent in London, when a tragic murder case arises.While exploring the dark, dirty streets of London and avoiding the prestigious flower arrangements of his niece, Reg manages to overcome his illness. In the course of helping his nephew solve this murder mystery, Reg mustcontend with Howard's other inspectors and struggle to prove his knowledge and expertise in the field of character analysis. Filled with unwed mothers, poverty, and adoption, this novel is constantly twisting and turning through Reg's inner thoughts.Through all this, he is pulled between two opposing forces.His wife, Dora, pleads with him to rest, in accordance with the doctor's wishes.On the other hand is his burning desire to solve the young girl's murder. In the end, he manages to stay on top of the case but ignores his doctor's wishes for him to eat only bread and water.By the end of his stay in London, though, Reg is back to his beef. Once I picked this book up, I was unable to put it down.It is full of intriguing surprises and, mingled with the unpredictable new characters, comes the story of a cult with a long, uncertain past of family deceit and runaway brides.All in all, this book tickled me into giving it the rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great mystery - circa 1972 - for fans of Inspector Wexford
An interesting story, fun to read... This book is copyright 1972.I wish Amazon would tell you the year of a book's original publication in its data about a book.Sometimes you want to read a anauthor's work, or (especially) a series, in the order that the books appeared, and with re-issues, Amazon doesn't help you figure the order out... But I digress.Murder being once done:Reg Wexford is here, and he's great.It is hard to believe that this character has been around for so long.Dora is here, but plays a very minor role, and although the story says that they have been married for many years, there is no mention of their children...Anyway, this is a well-written police procedural mystery, interesting characters,lots of plot twists about babies, unwed mothers, and adoption, and an interesting side story about a cult.You can see a bit of 1972 in the story, but not much - it reads as if it were set in the present time.It is as good as any Inspector Wexford story, and I was delighted to find it - I keep thinking I have read them all.If you have read this far into this review, you must be a fan of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford, and I assure you, you will like this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars I love Robin Bailey's reading.
I'm only half-way through and it is very captivating, Wexford is deliciousas read by Robin Bailey.Ruth Rendell's writing makes me laugh with joy,when Wexford sees 'an alarming flower arrangement', what a wonderfuladjective for a flower arrangement! ... Read more

6. The Monster in the Box: An Inspector Wexford Novel
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 320 Pages (2010-08-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439150370
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Monster in the Box is the latest addition to Ruth Rendell’s "masterful" (Los Angeles Times) Inspector Wexford series. In this enthralling new book, Rendell, "the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world" (Time), takes Inspector Wexford back to his first murder case—a woman found strangled in her bedroom. Outside the crime scene, Wexford noticed a short, muscular man wearing a scarf and walking a dog. The man gave Wexford an unnerving stare. Without any solid evidence, Wexford began to suspect that this man—Eric Targo—was the killer.

Over the years there are more unsolved, apparently motiveless murders in the town of Kingsmarkham.

Now, half a lifetime later, Wexford spots Targo back in Kingsmarkham after a long absence. Wexford tells his longtime partner, Mike Burden, about his suspicions, but Burden dismisses them as fantasy. Meanwhile, Burden’s wife, Jenny, has suspicions of her own. She believes that the Rahmans, a highly respectable immigrant family from Pakistan, may be forcing their daughter, Tamima, into an arranged marriage—or worse. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (61)

3-0 out of 5 stars OK but terrible formatting
I enjoyed this story although it is a little different that other Wexford novels, however, the Kindle edition has terrible formatting and grammar errors. It looks like someone has run a spell checker but accepted some odd suggestions that don't make sense. It actually makes it difficult to read in parts

4-0 out of 5 stars Monster in the Box
Excellent portrayal of Wexford in an indept accounting of history and emotional conflicts. Moves well but more slowly because of the focus on Wexford.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not her best
I usually enjoy Ruth Rendell's Wexford novels very much, but even her writing skills can't make anything of this extremely thin material.It deals with two themes - firstly Wexford's long standing obsession with a man he believes to be a murderer who has gone scotfree, secondly with Hannah and Jenny Burden's obsessive attempt to find a 'missing' Muslim schoolgirl.It also promises to reveal details of Wexford's courtship of Dora - in the end this turns out to be very sketchy, as no real details of their relationship are given, though there are some other interesting anecdotes of his other relationships and the whole 'vintage' storyline has quite a nice nostalgic feel.However the Targo storyline turns out to be quite a damp squib, we get no first hand insight into his supposed crimes or motives for them, only reported conversations, and in the end it all fizzles out in a very disappointing way. As for the Tamima storyline I'm afraid I couldn't take it seriously for one moment - I couldn't believe that the police would ever put that sort of effort into searching for a person who wasn't even regarded as missing by her nearest and dearest- certainly not now, nor in the late 90s when the story is set.

Her writing style is as strong as ever and the book is probably worth buying for that alone (though certainly not as a hardback) but hardcore Rendell fans be warned - don't expect any earth shattering twists at the end - in fact like me, you will probably be able to predict the ending of the Targo storyline fairly early on in the book.I also found Rendell's constant harping on about Wexford's literary aspersions quite patronising as if she is trying to show off her own erudition.I remembered Jane Austen's observation that the heroines of contemporary novels were never to be found reading anything as banal as a novel, and in the same way Wexford never reads anything as banal as a detective thriller - he is always described as reading something like Chaucer or some minor poet no-one (well not me) has ever heard of. So where does that leave us her readers?:)(But to be fair she has always been like this and I don't think it would irritate me so much if the storyline of this book had been better).

4-0 out of 5 stars WEXFORD'S LAST CASE IS A DOOZY

Ruth Rendell's writes with effortless grace -- if that's the right word.The bad guy here, Eric Targo is very bad indeed.Deformed and rich and a bully from way back.He has taunted and haunted Wexford.But is he a serial killer?Wexford's obsession with Targo and a series of murders makes for an exquisite read as we revisit previous cases in a village with which we have become very familiar over the last 30 or so years.There are also many revelations about Wexford himself.Everything ties together.The man and the village.Rendell may be the best of all living British mystery writer.Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Among Her Best
Inspector Wexford is now well along in his law enforcement career in and around Kingsmarkham.He sees a man he had, early in his career, suspected of being a murderer without being able to prove it.The undeclared suspect has returned to Kingsmarkham after a long absence.Now Wexford believes that suspect Eric Targo is the perpetrator of other killings, but evidence is scant and motive even scanter.Wexford tells his long-time assistant Mike Burden of his suspicions and Burden reminds Wexford that evidence is absent andthat Wexford cannot act on mere suspicion.Wexford persists and proceeds carefully.

Interwoven through the story is a subplot about a local Pakistani girl who, it is suspected, will be the victim of a forced marriage.

As both stories unfold, readers will learn the identity of the book's title, The Monster In The Box.

I have read most if not all of Rendell's many Inspector Wexford mysteries. It is my opinion that this one is among the best.Ruth Rendell excels in story construction and presentation.I doubt that I have read a police procedural that was more satisfying in every respect.I recommend it highly. ... Read more

7. The Lake of Darkness
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 224 Pages (2001-09)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704973
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Martin Urban is a quiet bachelor with a comfortable life, free of worry and distractions. When he unexpectedly comes into a small fortune, he decides to use his newfound wealth to help out those in need. Finn also leads a quiet life, and comes into a little money of his own. Normally, their paths would never have crossed. But Martin’s ideas about who should benefit from his charitable impulses yield some unexpected results, and soon the good intentions of the one become fatally entangled with the mercenary nature of the other. In the Lake of Darkness, Ruth Rendell takes the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished to a startling, haunting conclusion.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Tragedy Of Errors
This novel is an absolute delight and one of Rendell's best stand alone novels.Each character definitely has a screw loose, and without a clue as to what makes the others tick.The plot and the relationships here are too good to reveal in detail.Just get this book, fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the wild ride.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Lake of Darkness
Very intriguing, tale with a twist.Enjoyed it very much.A real Ruth Rendell mystery

5-0 out of 5 stars Rendell at her best
The Lake of Darkness is Rendell at her best - creating flawed, isolated characters whose disparate lives come together through a twist of fate that is the end of them all.These characters are all psychologically fragile and outside the normal side of behavior.

It's hard to describe the book without giving anything away - just read it!

3-0 out of 5 stars Very negative
Rendell always writes well, and has intriging plots,but I had forgotten how gloomy and cold her view of human nature is.Everything goes wrong. Everybody dies.You wind wind up at The End and want to read something with at least a spark of human joy in it.

5-0 out of 5 stars THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY...
Ruth Rendell is a fabulous British author who has churned out mystery after mystery filled with dark, demented twists. This is another tautly plotted, well crafted mystery with characters that, though seemingly normal, are just a tad off the beaten path.

This book features Martin Urban, a staid and somewhat stuffy young man who would have felt at home in Victorian England. Martin wins a very large sum of money in a football pool with a little help from Tim Sage, an old friend of his. Altruistic and given to some rather god-like pronouncements, Martin wishes to give the money away to the deserving poor, in order to enable them to buy a home. Poor Martin, there are none so blind, as those who will not see.

Beset by subliminal homo-erotic thoughts regarding Tim Sage, he meets a mysterious young woman named Francesca, who is as demure and submissive as a Victorian maiden and captures his heart. Unfortunately, she is bound to another. All, however, is not as Martin thinks that it is.

Enter Finn, the twisted son of Lena, former cleaning lady to Martin's mother. When Finn's path crosses that of Martin's, during one of Martin's fumbling attempts to give some of his winnings away, a very clever dialogue ensues between these two with some unexpected, deadly results.

Fans of Ms. Rendell will not be disappointed by this book. It is filled with the slightly off-beat characters for which she is known, some of whom harbor dark twisted thoughts, while others are entirely socio-pathic. Well-written is spare, clear prose and filled with enough twists and turns to satisfy the most discerning of readers, this is another gem in Ms. Rendell's treasure trove of mysteries. ... Read more

8. Harm Done: A New Inspector Wexford Mystery
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 368 Pages (2000-10-10)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$2.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375724842
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The search for the body commenced. Then the victim walked into town.

Behind the picture-postcard façade of Kingsmarkham lies a community rife with violence, betrayal, and a taste for vengeance. When sixteen-year-old Lizzie Cromwell reappears no one knows where she has been, including Lizzie herself. Inspector Wexford thinks she was with a boyfriend. But the disappearance of a three-year-old girl casts a more ominous light on events. And when the public's outrage turns toward a recently released pederast and another suspect turns up stabbed to death, Wexford must try to unravel the mystery before any more bodies appear, and before a mob of local vigilantes metes out a rough justice to their least favorite suspect. In Harm Done, the violence is near at hand, and evil lies just a few doors down the block.        Amazon.com Review
In Harm Done, Rendell has added a remarkable strand ofacute social commentary to a book that still functions as an utterlycompelling piece of detective fiction. In exploring the controversialsubject of pedophilia, she takes the mainstay of her work--theproblems of modern life--to a level of passion and commitment thatgives the book a truly powerful underpinning.

Back in the familiarSussex town of Kingsmarkham, Rendell's dogged sleuth Wexford isinvestigating the strange abductions of two young girls: Rachel, abright middle-class student, and Lizzie, a mentally disabled16-year-old living with her unsympathetic parents on a grim councilestate. When both girls return home, apparently unharmed, Wexford isfaced with a curious mystery: what really happened to them? As Wexfordbegins to uncover the disturbing truth, the dark psychological worldthat Rendell is so adroit at exploring suddenly comes into focus. Andher gift for sharp but concise characterization remains untouchable,as in the case of a reluctant witness: '''We don't talk about thatsort of thing.' She very nearly but not quite tossed her head." --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

3-0 out of 5 stars Slow, and not very mysterious
I really don't require a lot action in my mysteries, but this one really seemed to drag. Other reviewers have mentioned the distraction of too many plots, which also bothered me. Except for Wexford, Sylvia, and a few of the townsfolk, most of the characters were undeveloped.

My main problem with the book, assuming it was indeed supposed to be a mystery, was that it was very quickly apparent to me who wrote those letters since there was such a very large clue pointing to the writer. I assume that Wexford and at least some of his minions are supposed to be reasonably intelligent and observant; how could they have missed it? SPOILER:(Yes, I realize that didn't really matter in the end, but it was still a problem.)

Unlike another reviewer, I got really tired of Wexford's endless ruminating about his lost raincoat. Rendell pounds us over the head with that so much, it lost its value as a red herring. I just kept thinking, "Ruth must want me to think that the murder weapon is going to turn up in the pocket of that stupid raincoat, so it must not be important."

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Winner
Two young girls are kidnapped and shortly returned home with no harm save to their dignity. Then a toddler is kidnapped and the case takes a more serious turn.

Inspector Wexford and his team interview the family and discover vexing questions.

Learning a pedophile has recently been released from prison and is living in their midst, residents of a housing development are convinced he is the culprit. They attack his home, injuring his daughter. The mob is quelled, but angers soon broils up again resulting in an assault on the police headquarters and the death of an officer.

When the missing child's father is stabbed to death a bevy of well hidden family secrets coming pouring forth and the team follows several false trails before Wexford unravels the skein. Even he is at a loss as to whether justice has been served.

Few writers today can compete with Rendell for intricate plotting, characterization and psychological insight.

4-0 out of 5 stars Harm Done
Typical of Rundell, a well crafted story with a moral.Not her best but better than many other authors.

3-0 out of 5 stars More a Manslaughter than a Murder Mystery
In "Harm Done,"Kingsmarkham, Sussex, the country town where Chief Inspector Wexford tries to keep the peace, a lot is popping all at the same time.The local ecologically-minded populace has just succeeded in beating back a motorway bypass; there are some hard feelings remaining.A convicted pedophile has been released from prison, and come back to his registered home in the Muriel Campden Estate, a council estate packed with vulnerable children; the estate is in an uproar.A young girl from the estate, Lizzie Cromwell, has been missing for three days and then comes back, seemingly unharmed.Another local girl, the middle-class Rachel Holmes, is snatched soon after, and also comes back unharmed after a few days.And then two-year old Sanchia, daughter of Stephen Devenish, a local wealthy executive, is taken from her bed in the middle of the night.

It's odd, I've not thought of Lord Byron, famed English Regency poet, in years, and suddenly, I'm living in a Byron festival, and he turns up in everything I read.In "Harm Done," the writer describes a good-looking lad as a "young Byron."Rendell, of course, is an excellent, fluid writer, with fine qualities of wit, observation and imagination, and, as ever, she has woven an original, off-beat, intricate, many-layered plot here; nor does she take any of the lazy shortcuts we're accustomed to seeing on American television mysteries.However, although two deaths occur, the book isn't properly a murder mystery, I think.It's more a manslaughter and miscellaneous illegal behaviors mystery; the one murder that occurs does so late in the book.We've been waiting for it, and we sorta kinda know "whodunit," from the start.I do find Rendell has a tendency to get a bit preachy, on environmental issues; and, particularly, on women's issues[...] Of course, few people favor our ripping our environments to shreds, and fewer still, I hope, favor wife abuse, or sexual slavery: I wouldn't think her crusades were controversial, but to me, at least, they detract a bit from the mysteries.But the mysteries are excellent.

3-0 out of 5 stars No Harm Done reading this book
But no great thrills either. I guess it was my bad luck to be reading by coincidence four thrillers involving young female abductions and/or killings. So while reading HARM DONE, I was quite sick of the theme. The spousal abuse was an interesting theme. The missing girls and who was taking them was a disappointing subplot. Cute little surprise twist at the end. ... Read more

9. A Judgement in Stone
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 208 Pages (2000-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$6.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704965
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"A classic."--The London Times        

What on earth could have provoked a modern day St. Valentine's Day massacre?

On Valentine's Day, four members of the Coverdale family--George, Jacqueline, Melinda and Giles--were murdered in the space of 15 minutes. Their housekeeper, Eunice Parchman, shot them, one by one, in the blue light of a televised performance of Don Giovanni. When Detective Chief Superintendent William Vetch arrests Miss Parchman two weeks later, he discovers a second tragedy: the key to the Valentine's Day massacre hidden within a private humiliation Eunice Parchman has guarded all her life.  A brilliant rendering of character, motive, and the heady discovery of truth, A Judgement in Stone is among Ruth Rendell's finest psychological thrillers.

"It will be an amazing achievement if [Rendell] ever writes a better book."--London Daily Express

"Ruth Rendell is the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world."--Time ... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Achievement
This short novel by Ruth Rendell is probably one of the most stunning books this writer has produced in her long and fruitful career. Rendell's greatest gift is her capacity to create incomparably nuanced, complex, and fascinating characters. Eunice Parchman, the protagonist of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE, is a character you will remember long after you finish reading the novel.

This book does not follow the typical formula of a mystery novel where a dead body is discovered and a search for the killer ensues. Here, readers knows what happened and why pretty much from the start. In this way, Rendell removes the traditional elements of the genre in order to allow the readers to concentrate on the personalities of her characters and the relationships between them.

The best thing about this novel is that it asks really important questions and makes you want to think about them long after you have finished reading this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece.
I've read all Ruth Rendell's & Barbara Vine's books so far & this to me is my all-time favorite. It was the first one I read years ago & since then I've been addicted to her novels. I found this to be her best ever having such an original & probable plot, well written prose, & likable characters. I highly recommend this novel if you haven't read it or are thinking about reading her novels.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Insight Into Mind of Illiterate Character
There's not much mystery in this mystery because the author tells us what's gonna happen and who does it.But she still manages to present a compelling read and, although you know how it's going to turn out, the tension keeps building throughout.The main character can't read and this is an enormous part of the book.The author takes us into the mind of the illiterate, illustrating the tricks they use to hide their handicap and the embarassment that accompanies them wherever they go.Rendell is a wonderful writer and her talents are well on display in this short, but riveting psychological novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A grim psychological tragedy
Tiis has to stand as one of Ruth Rendell's most affecting books. She sets the tone and the voice of tragedy in the first paragraph and then takes us through the entire story of the illiterate but proud murderess, Eunice, and her mad partner in the grisly crime, Joan Smith.This is a truly captivating read which one will be very tempted to finish in one sitting if possible.

5-0 out of 5 stars Chilling, mesmerizing and brilliant...
I have read everything Rendell has written and A Judgement In Stone is her best novel in my view. The book is flawlessly constructed. The characters are mesmerizing and their voices, mannerisms, habits and dialogue are amazingly unique. I literally would stop while reading to contemplate how the author was able to jump so completely into a character that was entirely different from the one in the previous chapter. Many reputable authors are capable of bringing their characters to life but, but when you read Rendell you realize she surpasses them completely. She is like the Meryl Streep or Philip Seymour Hoffman of literature. She can get into anyone. She can be anyone. Her talent is absolutely staggering. ... Read more

10. Some Lie and Some Die (An Inspector Wexford Mystery)
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 192 Pages (1999-03-30)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$3.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704906
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A mutilated body found at a rock festival.

In spite of dire predictions, the rock festival in Kingsmarkham seemed to be going off without a hitch, until the hideously disfigured body is discovered in a nearby quarry. And soon Wexford is investigating the links between a local girl gone bad and a charismatic singer who inspires an unwholesome devotion in his followers. Some Lie and Some Die is a devilishly absorbing novel, in which Wexford's deductive powers come up against the aloof arrogance of pop stardom.

With her Inspector Wexford novels, Ruth Rendell, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, has added layers of depth, realism and unease to the classic English mystery. For the canny, tireless, and unflappable policeman is an unblinking observer of human nature, whose study has taught him that under certain circumstances the most unlikely people are capable of the most appalling crimes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not one of her better works...
...and possibly her worst.I've read two other SUPERB books, A judgement in Stone and The Babes in the Wood, and Rendell is equally adept at characterizing people and atmosphere.Her books are not very long, and I sometimes wish they were longer, that she would dwell more on her strengths like PD James does, but this one lacked almost everything--characterization, atmosphere, and length.

Added to which the plot was quite unbelievable--I was hit on the head constantly with Zeno's power over his fellow human beings, but in the end I did not quite think enough had been done to make me believe this to be true.And the professor in the second house was not developed enough either, especially since he plays a decently strong role in the ending (Bit of a spoiler)--the girl's reasons for meeting the professor were shabby, to the point of being ridiculous (Rendell does try to set it up earlier by introducing this obsession on the part of someone else...but that was not good enough and stuck out very obviously like a plant just to make this shabby ending work.)

I think this book lacks attention--it seems to have been put together hastily and without much thought, perhaps to meet a deadline?

There are better and really much much better and superb Rendell mysteries--read them, read this for comparision, but not much else.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another superb early Wexford story
During the brilliantly depicted rock festival in the grounds of Sundays House - the atmosphere of this is brilliant, and is part of the reason why this book, like all her best, sparkles with an individuality that makes the experience of reading it so special - the bands play, the weather is fine, and a good time is had by all except one or two disgruntled locals. Oh, and the sometimes-grouchy Inspector Burden of course, but even he lightens up to the idea eventually. However, as the festival begins to wind itself down, two precocious lovers discover a battered body in a nearby quarry, and Inspector Wexford finds himself investigating murder rather than his earlier duty of making sure everything runs smoothly, and law-abidingly, at the festival. The body is identified as that of Dawn Stonor, a local girl who had moved to London, returning only on occasional trips to see her mother. As with all Rendell mysteries, the plot soon thickens considerably and little is as it seems...

Some Lie and Some Die ranks among Rendell's finest Wexford mysteries. It's one of my favourites, along with Wolf to the Slaughter, The Speaker of Mandarin, The Veiled One and Harm Done. It's a short little mystery, but Rendell packs such a lot in here, a lot of plot that it's an incredibly satisfying, fulfilling novel. Once again, it is a completely unique work (all of her best are; the ones which are slightly formulaic, or lack that special sparkle, like Put on by Cunning of A New Lease of Death, aren't quite so wonderful) and an excellent mystery.

It's absolutely fascinating to read; every word is palced perfectly, every shift in the story times impeccably. There is something so unique and special about reading Ruth Rendell, but it's something which is impossible to elaborate much on. It's just this little thrill; a little thrill you get at every perfect sentence combining into a perfect whole. It's also an incredibly powerful book, with an absolutely wonderful ending. I loved it.

As this book is certainly short, the characters aren't exactly incredibly well-rounded, as they are in some of her alter, longer books, but they are still sharp and pricked out with incredibly insight, almost shivering acuity. Wexford and Burden are great once more, but that goes without saying. This is another marvellous little book from Rendell - a fascinating, absorbing, special little read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sixties Revisited in Classic Rendell Mystery
Rendell portrays her own era and environment with subtle language use and style.This book is a description of a Woodstock-type gathering that uncovers a murder mystery. Rendell somehow remains non-judgmental while giving an accurate portrait of much that went on during the "hippie" decades.The plot is great and any Rendell is worth a read, in my opinion.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Elegant Piece of Mystery Fiction
"Some Lie and Some Die" is a superbly crafted mystery novel. It's short--in pages, and in time-line, and it's not overly burdened with plotting or diverting details.It is, in a word, elegant. The events (a murder, a missing girl, a palette of suspects) are set against the backdropof a rock concert, complete with egotistical stars and fawning sycophants,spoiled fans and irate neighbors.But underlying it all are the basichuman failings of self-absorption and greed and it is these motivationswhich lead to the horror and the desperation of the characters and theiractions. Rendell is, as usual, an incisive observer of the dark side ofhumanity, and a writer who can portray the consequences with the short,deft strokes of a master craftsman.

2-0 out of 5 stars Did Ruth Rendell really write this?
Never before has a Rendell novel left me so cold.Totally untypical of its brilliant author, "Some Lie and Some Die" is dull and unsatisfying, and offers little to reward the reader for enduring suchtedium.The characters--with a few exceptions--are uninteresting;detection is slow and scarce, and the motive for the murder turns out to behighly improbable.It's as if Rendell wrote a mystery starting with thebody but forgot to include a plausible reason for it.Where is theseamless manipulation, the ingenuity, the stunning surprise twistsinterlaced with brilliant psychological insight, that are the hallmarks ofRendell's work?Not here.The few bright spots are the scenes betweenInspector Burden and his son, which show us a humor, an energy missing fromthe rest of this dead, bleak novel.Let's just toss this one along with"Simisola" into Rendell's "Forget about it" pile. ... Read more

11. Best Man to Die (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries)
by Ruth Rendell
Mass Market Paperback: 208 Pages (1987-05-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345345304
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Who could have suspected that the exciting stag party for the groom would be the prelude to the murder of his close friend Charlie Hatton? And Charlie's death was only the first in a string of puzzling murders involving small-time gangsters, cheating husbands, and loose women. Now Chief Inspector Wexford and his assistant join forces with the groom to track down a killer . . .
... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Rendell's or Wexford's best, but still well worth your time
There is a shortage of truly likeable characters in this one, but they are indelibly drawn and real.Rendell's Inspector Wexford mysteries are all superior.However, I did have trouble with one crucial aspect of the story and that is with what first appears to be a subplot, but proves to be connected to the primary case in question.I want to avoid a spoiler, but my difficulty deals with the original identification and original supposition concerning one of the fatalities in the secondary plot thread.It just does not quite compute. This is still a compelling and satisfying British mystery from one of the best practioners of the form.

3-0 out of 5 stars Clever plot, but with a fatal flaw
Inspector Wexford investigates the murder of a cocky little lorry driver with too much spare cash, which seems somehow interconnected with a fatal traffic accident.When he finally decides who the culprit is, and orders an arrest, he seems to have put together all the puzzle pieces.Unfortunately, a prosecutor would probably say that he lacked sufficient hard evidence to prove his case. At most, he could make a circumstantial case involving motive and opportunity, but I think a good defense lawyer could shred it.A few good red herrings, a lot of atmosphere, a surprise dénoument, but ultimately lacking in sharpness.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Inspector Wexford Outing: Two Cases Intersect
Ruth Rendell has twenty Detective Chief Inspector Wexford crime novels in her arsenal, and this was number four in the series. Wexford is a big, heavy man, not particularly good looking, happily married, who has one plain Jane daughter and a stunning one who is a famous stage actress. Rendell never really brings the wife to life; she's just there. Wexford is a conventional guy, not a boozer like many British police detectives. He spars with his sidekick, the prosaic Inspector Burden.
This mystery is built around the intense friendship between two working class men. One of them is a dodgy little lorry driver who has too much money for a man in his pay grade. Two police cases intersect: one is a murder and the other a highway accident with fatalities. Wexford goes about the job of interviewing witnesses thinking, "If only they knew that to him their revelations were but bricks in the house he was trying to build, rungs on the ladder of discovery..."
If you're alert, you can figure out fairly early on who the murderer is and what the connection is between the two cases. It's a well-told tale with insights into British life and the class system. Rendell keeps your interest with some flinty characters, interesting details embedded in the story, and a vivid town setting. Her characters often are unlikable, but there is a feeling of reality that comes across. These aren't stick figures or stereotypes--now if only she could breathe life and personality into Wexford's spouse. Not the best of the Wexford series in subtlety and grace, but with a few flashes of humor, it does nicely as an introduction to the series.

3-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat "Sourpuss" Characters Spoil Classic 1969 Police Procedural
No one can complain that award winning Brit mystery author Ruth Rendell is anything but prolific - her some fifty novels span a career launched in the early 1960's now into our new millennium.About one-third of the stories, as herein with "Best Man", feature Chief Inspector Reg Wexford, who heads the Kingsmarkham district, which seems to correspond to maybe a county sheriff-type jurisdiction.In this tale, a fairly mild, tavern stag party on the eve of Jack Pertwee's wedding is marred to say the least by the murder of his best man (and great friend) Charlie Hatton.Though by trade a truck driver, Charlie had recently been flashing big bills, buying rounds of drinks and spending tidy sums on gifts for his wife and friends.Yet he was unpopular with most people, and apparently involved in some shady deals involving truck hi-jacks, hence the wads of otherwise unexplained cash and a mouthful of expensive false teeth!Unfortunately, these circumstances lead to a plethora of motives and suspects for the crime, and of course it's up to Wexford, with sidekick Inspector Burden, to hash through all the clues to zero in on a killer.Distracting them from their duties was a car crash a few weeks earlier that killed two people, of whom one, a young lady, turned out to be difficult to identify.Whether the print space devoted to this side issue comes to bear on the Hatton affair was yet another angle of the mystery for most of the book.

Compared to today's suspenseful modern crime and mystery thrillers, this nearly 40-year old work seems pretty tame.There is little but a straightforward storyline to captivate our interest, and the characters, even the leading ones, are only so sparsely described it left us relatively uncaring in the process.That they were mostly unpleasant folks, unhappy with their affairs, doesn't help, leaving us almost as blasé about events as were they.Some of the social commentary about the differences in "class" between the policemen, the dentist, and the other everyday characters seemed rather dated, as were the sums of money that they all talked about (expressed in British currency of course). While a modest twist at the end gained us some final satisfaction, we would not highly rate this book for its entertainment value.We suspect from Rendell's outstanding reputation that her more recent works might be better indicators of her craft, but her 1969 "Best Man To Die" is little more than a couple hours of modestly pleasant pastime.

4-0 out of 5 stars A reprint of a 1969 Inspector Wexford Novel
While the Inspector Wexford novels are generally good, this one is a little dated.The references to money, with an indication that 120 pounds sterling was a large amount that made a man flush, needs to be taken in the context of the time and the country, i.e., the UK where pay scales may have been a quarter the amount in the US.The amount noted, at that time a little under $300 in US funds, would not have been exceptionally high by US standards even in 1969.I also had a bit of a problem with the writing style as the author tends to jump from one character and scene to another while going from one written sentence to the next.It would be nice to have a break indicating a change of scene, even a blank line on the page.This is an editorial problem which I blame on the publisher.

The plot is complex, and initially starts out with a number of seemingly unrelated events.It involves marriages, mistresses, children, a dog, some amount of crime, of course a couple murders, people not cooperating with the police, and class distinctions with some working class people just trying to keep their heads above water.

When the police investigate a man's murder, the investigation opens up various cans of worms.There are people making a little money on the side, women looking for rich men, men looking for rich women, married men chasing around, and the police trying to tie everything together.Overall an interesting plot of 201 pages in this edition. ... Read more

12. Not in the Flesh (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 320 Pages (2009-06-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307388786
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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After a truffle-hunting dog unearths a human hand instead of a precious fungus, Chief Inspector Wexford and his team proceedto interrogate everyone who lives nearby to see if they can turn up a match for the errant appendage among the eighty-five people who have disappeared over the past decade in this part of England. Then, when a second body is discovered nearby, Wexford experiences a feeling that's become a rarity for the veteran policeman: surprise.As Wexford painstakingly moves to resolve these multiple mysteries, long-buried secrets are brought to daylight, and Ruth Rendell once again proves why she has been hailed as our greatest living mystery writer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

4-0 out of 5 stars Dear Inspector Wexford
The pleasure in reading Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series is derived only in part -- a small part -- from the crime story contained. Though the plotting of the whodunit aspect of "Not in the Flesh" is as detailed and meticulous as one has come to expect from a Rendell book, it is the novel's non-mysterious elements that are the most absorbing and affecting.

Watching Wexford becoming more and more out of touch with modern ways -- both technological and interpersonal -- we become conscious of our own aging process, and how easily change and progress can eventually leave us all behind. We see Wexford adjusting to and accepting some changes, whilst resisting and stubbornly refusing to acknowledge others. Though alienated from many aspects of 21st century life, Wexford is still a relatively well-adjusted family man, involved in, and concerned with the lives of his wife, daughters, and grandchildren. Unlike his complex and conflicted fictional colleagues, Colin Dexter's Morse, or P.D. James' Adam Dagliesh, Wexford is not a societal outsider, haunted by past tragedies and personal demons. He is a normal, aging citizen, bemused by society's ephemeral trends but with a deep understanding of the fixed human condition and psychology of the criminal mind.

For quite a while now, Rendell's Wexford books have included sub-plots touching on contemporary social issues, and "Not in the Flesh" is no exception. Here, female genital mutilation joins surrogate motherhood(End in Tears); environmental concerns(Road Rage); and race relations(Simisola) as societal issues Rendell has chosen to address. Along with wry observations about feminism, political correctness, and modern life, Rendell can always be counted on to provide a few evocative descriptions of the English countryside, which Anglophile readers on my side of the pond can devour and delight in as exquisite frissons.

Rendell's aim is not to provide massive doses of tension and suspense(though one passage where the police race to prevent a young girl's mutilation is quite a nail-biter), she does eventually engage the reader's attention in the solution of the mystery. Rendell might not gain many new converts from "Not in the Flesh", but long-time Wexford fans will appreciate another opportunity of visiting Kingsmarkham and its always put upon chief inspector.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Good Rendell
This is a very good paperback copy of a recent novel by Ruth Rendell, who is a super writer!

5-0 out of 5 stars Rendell is the best!
Ruth Rendell is unique, the best of all the "noir" writers. I even like her best when she leaves her detective and signs as Barbara Vine, telling an individual story that's not related to the others. She doesn't work crime, she works the mind of the killer. Only compared to Patricia Highsmith. Any reader who likes sicology must read her.

4-0 out of 5 stars Who knew there were truffles in England?
One of the great things about Ruth Rendell is the scope of her interests and therefore, the breadth of her writing."Not in the Flesh" is ample proof of this versatility and creativity.Opening with a truffle hunting mongrel (whose family history has been wonderfully spelled out in the first pages of the book), this Chief Inspector Wexford mystery moves into the investigation of two cold-case murders very quickly.

There is a fine circuitous trail stretching toward the solution, as Wexford and Kingsmarkham police sidekicks do the extensive procedural work that gradually unravels the cases.There are some sidebar stories that not directly connected to the murders, but reflect the author's diversity of interests which she has indulged to interesting effect.

"Not in the Flesh" has drawn some criticism from some regular fans of Rendell/Wexford, and I wonder if it could be because of the general lack of likeability in the book's cast of characters, which is rich and varied, but generally lacking in virtue, kindness and cheer.

In any event, this Rendell tale is definitely worth a read, even if you conclude that it's not her very best work of all time.Anything by the Queen is better than most anything by anyone else.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good read
I enjoyed this one although not as much as others. The female genital mutilation subplot had me thinking-- "Why is this in this story?"no carry over to main plot.I had to think the author had an agenda for anyone reading the book to learn about fgm---And I read mysteries for just that not to be forced to read something an author is involved with in real life.I was though shocked when Wexford in public announced to Burden that the young woman had been gm.Wow, great privacy and keeping a confidence, Wexford and also a little implication to Burden that she was somehow damaged as far as sex goes and therefore not good enough.I don't know, that particular paragragh bothered me. ... Read more

13. Make Death Love ME
by Ruth Rendell
 Hardcover: 216 Pages (1986-02-27)
-- used & new: US$152.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0091366305
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Alan Groombridge had a fantasy. Bored with his life, he dreamed ofstealing enough money from the bank he worked in to allow him just one year of happiness. But when the bank is robbed, Groombridge is caught up in a nightmare. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Haunting, unsettling, wise, distressing, excellent
Putting aside the books written under the pseudonym "Barbara Vine,"there are two distinct Ruth Rendells represented by her novels under her own name. One is the expert weaver of satisfying detective procedurals with the gruffly appealing Inspector Wexford at their center. The other is as a writer of intensely psychological novels which include some sort of crime as an ingredient, but which are largely studies of the difficult interior lives of people of various classes (though most often middle and lower classes) in contemporary England.

This novel is an early-ish example of the latter category, and it makes quite a compellingly strong case for her talents in this area. If it is dated at all, it's only in that sense that so many novels and films from roughly 1967 through 1980 so often relentlessly featured profoundly dissatisfied, "lost" people in all walks of life, as though society itself was in a kind of moral collapse (we seem to have that again now, but I'm not sure it's trickled up to our literature and cinema yet). Has there ever been a bleaker portrait of suburban middle-class life than the existence of central character Alan Groombridge as this book opens? There is no dearth of a general sense of ennui in most of Ms. Rendell's books, but Alan's case is almost heartbreaking. His literary, even poetic longings in the midst of a soul-numbing domestic life are dreary in the extreme, and we as readers cannot help but root for him as an odd circumstance of fate gives him the sudden chance to break free of the prison of his home life.

Intersecting with his story is the tale of two misguided young men, hardly innately criminal types yet weak, impulsive and with some very poor judgment. It's a true gift of Ruth Rendell's that we grow to understand so well their inner lives, their histories, the chance circumstances which lead them astray. In fact, the book presents us with a handful of characters so richly nuanced, so thoroughly drawn that, for better or worse,we can't help but feel we know them well, invest in them and then feel the wrenching discomfort of watching their fates play out in this tautly compact and unsettling novel. It is both moving and ultimately disturbing.

It's worth pointing out as well that in this book Ruth Rendell is also exploring an underlying theme of the consequences (some tragic, some satisfying, some unexpected) that ensue from our hesitation to "do the right thing" in a situation wherein we feel conflicted. At so many junctures in the novel one feels "if this or that person would JUST make that call or do that thing, this could be resolved without such dire consequences," but on multiple levels people keep makingthe wrong the choices -- though to Ms. Rendell's credit, we really can believe their reasons for making those wrong choices in the contexts of their individual situations. She leads us to understand (perhaps the real theme of this book), how our personal inner conflicts cloud and damage our moral compass and our ability to make what might seem like common-sense choices. In the most positive aspect of Alan's experiences in this book, we see that if he could only have told the truth to a particular person he cares deeply about (and not instead invented elaborate lies to prevent being "rejected" by that person) the whole outcome of the novel have changed.Throughout the book, it is the hesitation people have at "doing the right thing" at decisive moments which drives the story to the complex ultimate ramifications of its conclusions.

This does seem to be the major theme of the novel. Without this realisation one might perhaps focus on how incompetent the off-stage police seem to be: day after day goes by with the police accomplishing nothing of substance. But this is not the point of the book. Yes, there is a crime at the heart of the story, but this is not a "mystery." It's a wise and haunting novel of people's strivings and failings. Despite a tendency (present in many of her non-Wexford books) to "punish" a character for striving beyond their present circumstances (sometimes giving her work an "Ethan Frome" quality in this way), Ms. Rendell always balances this by giving her characters a sense of dignity and individuality even while examining the quirks and flaws that all of us carry around with us. This is especially true in MAKE DEATH LOVE ME. It's a profoundly human story, with full doses of both love and tragedy. As an example of the "non-Wexford" work of Ruth Rendell, it's a very good example indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rendell's most haunting
This is probably one of Ruth Rendell's best books.If ever anyone needs an introduction of work at its peak then this title would be an exemplary candidate.It is compact and to the point; inevitable in its course of action, yet still, as in life, unpredictable.It starts off in an typically understated way but once characters make their choices, their decisions affect everyone's lives like a domino effect, and then the story gets rolling in a twisty fashion that almost goes out of control, and can only lead to good fortune for some and tragedy and sadness for the rest.

It is the story of bored bank manager Alan Groombridge who dreams of how much all that money surrounding him could lead him to a better life, away from his humdrum home with his nagging wife and family.Simultaneously two young men are in process of robbing this same bank that Alan works in.Unfortunately the robbery is bungled and instead of money, the two would be robbers end up with a young teller coworker of Alan's.For Alan it also provides him an opportunity to take the money himself and run away with it, leading everyone to think that the robbers have stolen the money themselves and taken him as hostage as well...

So what is Alan to do...now that he has the freedom and money will he finally get to lead the life that he's always dreamed away from his family or will his conscience get the better of him...?

I read this book around the early eighties while in high school.In the intervening years I must have read hundreds of other mysteries, most of which have long faded from my memory.But this one lingers on and haunts me like very few others.Don't mistake this for some sort of "slam bang" action book geared for a film script treatment.It is a true novel mislabeled as a "mystery" although without any literary pretensions that have marred some of her later books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Didn't want it to end!
Wow - I sat all day under the spell of this book, barely looking up from the pages. As usual, Rendell knows how to tell a good story and draw characters that you don't forget.Its been a week since reading it, and I still think of that poor woman in the end who thinks that her lover deserted her, when....well, I won't say more.This is one of the best I've read of hers, and hope to find more!

4-0 out of 5 stars Lovely book
Enjoyed it; not the masterpiece it's portrayed by some reviewers to be, but excellent for its type.Would recommend. (Part of the problem is that, except for a few contemporary writers, and, of course, the very ancient ones, I find there to be a"precious" streak in the fiction of most modern Brit writers; a frisson of sentimentality I find unappealing.Maybe it's caused by the bias of "class" - so inimical to the American way of thinking.I felt I was made to be very aware of the social status of Joyce, Allen, Nigel and Marty). In fact, social and economic class status are also inherent in the U.S., but it usually isn't a focus in our fiction. It dampens my enjoyment of some British literature. It didn't stick out like a sore thumb in this novel, but - just enough to (occasionally) curdle the brew.)

4-0 out of 5 stars Now what?
Ruth Rendell really understands human nature. When one thinks about robbing a bank, thoughts center upon what to do with all the $$$$$, not about the reality of the nitty gritty of not getting caught and sent up the river. None of the characters in this story is essentially evil. But the pressure of coping with the consequences of deliberate immoral actsaffects each of them in ways they never anticipated. One thing leads to another and eventually it all goes haywire. Fascinating. ... Read more

14. Speaker of Mandarin: An Inspector Wexford Mystery
by Ruth Rendell
Mass Market Paperback: 213 Pages (1984-09)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$14.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345302745
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Chief Inspector Wexford is in China, visiting ancient tombs and palaces with a group of British tourists. After their return to England, one of his fellow tourists is found murdered. As he questions other members of the group, Wexford finds secrets of greed, treachery, theft, and adultery, leading the distressed inspector to ask not who is innocent, but who is least guilty . . .
... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars TOOK FOREVER TO READ---
At first I liked this book's quaintness, but then it turned into a boring travel log and from there a boring mystery.

4-0 out of 5 stars A quite rewarding mystery
I'm meaning to read the Inspector Wexford mysteries in sequence, but happened onto a copy of this one and find it definitely a better than average mystery. I especially enjoyed the rather mystical overtone concerning the old woman with bound feet in the first part of the novel as well as the different styles of investigation employed by inspectors Wexford and Burden.This being only the third Inspector exford mystery I've read, I can't fairly compare it with others in the series.Be that as it may, this is definitely worthwhile reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Wexford fans
I have read all the Wexford books and this one has stayed with me.
I think about it often as it made a huge impact on me when I read it.The characters are complex and there is an almost mystical quality about it.This book along with "Semisola" are my favorite Wexford stories.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wexford goes international!
Certainly Chief Inspector Wexford is "out of his bailiwick" in this Ruth Rendell suspense! In "Speaker of Mandarin," the erstwhile police detective finds himself in China, enjoying the sights. So much so that some sights keep recurring! Even after he returns home to his routine of solving murders in Kingsmarkham! Following the trip to China, one of Wexford's fellow travelers is murdered. And Rendell & Company are off and running. This series, certainly one of the best in the police procedural genre, always provides the reader with plenty of suspense, intrigue, intelligence, and great characterization. In his investigation, Wexford finds that there's more to this group of travelers than meets the ey, much like an Oriental puzzle box: until you press the exact button, it remains a mystery. Through Wexford's skill, ably assisted by Mike Burden with a little help from Wexford's wife Dora, the puzzle--and murderer--is soon revealed. Rendell is true to form here,

although finding her in China is a bit surprising! Nevertheless, Rendell fans will applaud and new readers will be impressed! (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Stereotypical SnoreFest!
I found this book to be very difficult to get "into".The characters were not interesting, the descriptions were overkill and the author treated the Chinese culture quite stereotypically, especially in herdialogue sections.I was disappointed with the book and only finished itbecause my library book group was reading it.It definitely was not worththe time. ... Read more

15. Simisola (Best Seller) (Spanish Edition)
by Ruth Rendell
 Paperback: 360 Pages (2004-11-30)
list price: US$15.95
Isbn: 8497934555
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A Wexford mystery. Only 18 black people live in Kingsmarkham. One is Wexford's new doctor, whose daughter disappears. Chief Inspector Wexford takes more than a mere professional interest in the case, testing not only his powers of deduction, but his beliefs and prejudices about racial equality. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Simisola
I'm just about halfway through this book and am having a hard time putting it down. Good Mystery. This author (Ruth Rendell) is new to me and I'm enjoying her books.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Quite Different Story Line
Everyone knows that Ruth Rendell is one of the the best writers out there (in any genre).This book did not disappoint me.She handles this story about the disappearance of a young black girl with her usual style.It's a realistic story about the lives of what are sometimes called the disenfranchised people, or the people in a community that no one really notices.Wexford is faced with one of the most difficult cases in his career when he sets out to find this girl.To him it's almost like trying to find a ghost.And on his way he uncovers a horrific story about what happens to some people from other races who manage to slip into England under the radar.He can't believe it happens in his lovely little home of Kingsmarkham.But he does manage to solve the mystery, and get the right people in jail in the end.Only Rendell can handle a story that is this complex without letting any of her readers get lost in the process of trying to figure it out.

3-0 out of 5 stars Vague Characters & Construction Undercuts Good Style
Ruth Rendell is often admired for her elegantly sparse prose and her psychological insight; I, however, too often find her novels vague in both character and construction--and her solutions more a matter of deux ex machina that actual deduction.And such is the case with SIMISOLA, a novel that finds unassuming Inspector Wexford first in search of a missing girl and then in search of a vicious killer.

As usual, Rendell writes with a graceful touch and brings a certain amount of social commentary into her novel, in this instance elaborating on both racism and joblessness in England.This sounds a promising mix, but Rendell proves quite typical of herself: when all is said and done most of her social commentary seems to have little to do with the story beyond providing a foggy sort of background to a somewhat forced conclusion.The ultimate effect is that of a novel you read a bit of and then put down--and maybe you pick it up again and maybe you don't.Certainly not one of her more interesting efforts.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

4-0 out of 5 stars Murder, family and race keep Wexford hopping
Winner of three Edgars and four Gold Daggers, Rendell is a master of tightly constructed plots, characters under pressure and heightened atmosphere.

Simisola, her 16th Inspector Wexford mystery, set in the fairly small town of Kingsmarkham, England, opens with Wexford's new doctor -an African immigrant - beseeching the chief inspector for help finding his daughter, Melanie, last seen at the unemployment center. Melanie's home life is strict and Wexford assumes she's shaking off the yoke until the claims adviser who helped Melanie at the job center is found murdered.

Meanwhile Wexford's whiny daughter Sylvia and ill-matched husband are both jobless and going on the dole. Wexford, fretted by guilt at his impatience towards his daughter, and knowing that he would not be making daily visits to Melanie's parents if they were not black, muses over social attitudes, ingrained prejudice and motives for murder until the body of a young black woman is discovered.

There are few blacks in Kingsmarkham and despite several small clues to the contrary, Wexford assumes it's Melanie. After a night of grief, the family arrives at the mortuary only to find a stranger.

Wexford, mortified, approaches the three-part investigation with new insight - re-examining every assumption, taking note of every tiny discrepancy.
Kingsmarkham is large enough to encompass slums, council flats and elaborate estates, allowing Rendell to involve a wealthy and flashy female politician, a surgeon and his lackadaisically privileged children, a petty thief, an adulterous businessman, unemployed youth and a hidden black underclass in a story that unwinds in dark twists and turns of grubby secrets.

Although the explosive ending may seem unrealistically grotesque to some, it's still vintage Rendell - suspenseful and wholly absorbing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another great Rendell read.
When C.I. Reg Wexford pays a visit to his new doctor,Raymond Akande, the doctor confides in him that his daughter Melanie has been missing from home for a few days after supposedly staying the night with a girlfriend. Most of the characters in this book revolve around the local employment and benefits office and the off-beat customers who spend much of their time there.The body of one of the clerks at the employment office is discovered and Wexford establishes a link between her and the coctors missing daughter.The story is tightly written with the characters well defined--a good fast read. ... Read more

16. No More Dying Then
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 224 Pages (1999-03-30)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$3.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704892
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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What kind of a person would kidnap two children?

That is the question that haunts Wexford when a five-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl disappear from the village of Kingsmarkham. When a child's body turns up at an abandoned country home one search turns into a murder investigation and the other turns into a race against time.Filled with pathos and terror, passion, bitterness, and loss, No More Dying Then is Rendell at her most chillingly astute.

With her Inspector Wexford novels, Ruth Rendell, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, has added layers of depth, realism and unease to the classic English mystery. For the canny, tireless, and unflappable policeman is an unblinking observer of human nature, whose study has taught him that under certain circumstances the most unlikely people are capable of the most appalling crimes. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars One of the Weakest Wexford Mysteries
NO MORE DYING THEN is really not on the same level as the rest of Inspector Wexford series. The story drags on in the most boring way one can imagine. The introduction of clues that should point us to the solution of the mystery is so heavy-handed that it's hard not to guess what happened pretty early into the book. It seems like the mystery is completely secondary here to the detailed and unappetizing exploration of Burden's repressed sexuality.

Mike Burden is portrayed as a disgusting, hateful creep in this novel. He mistreats his lonely orphaned children, acts horribly towards his sister-in-law, and wishes that the woman he wants to marry should never recover her lost son because if she does, that will mean an extra mouth for Burden to feed. What kind of a nasty individual wishes out of greed that a mother would lose her little son forever? What kind of a creepy police officer uses the grief of a crime victim to have sex with her? Before I read this novel, I used to like Burden as a character. Now, I will never be able to read another Wexford mystery without shuddering in disgust every time Burden is mentioned.

Wexford doesn't get a lot of space in this novel. He appears a couple of times, wondering why Burden is behaving in such a nasty way, and then disappears again. His family isn't mentioned at all. The dialogues between Wexford and Burden that usually liven up the series aren't there either.

It's not a good sign when a reader puts aside a mystery novel with only 15 pages to go and forgets about it for over a week. This is exactly what I did. You know how it's going to end anyways, so it makes no difference when or whether you get to those final boring pages of a boring book. As much as I love this author, I have to say that this book is a complete waste of time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Quiet desperation expertly spun
This story is an early work by Ruth Rendell, but it's a clear milestone on her road to become the queen of dark fiction.I marvel at how adept Rendell is at taking the reader into the very core of her characters' minds.No need to get into the plot of this book, but if you enjoy a meandering tale with many stops along the way to examine the thinking, emotions and motivations of the book's characters, this is a work for you. As dark as the story can be, a kind of redemption emerges at the close.

2-0 out of 5 stars SPOILER WARNING! Misogynists in the Mix
Not being familiar with Rendell's work, but needing something to pass the time with, I kept reading more out of amazement that such a loathsome, self-centered mysogynist as Burden (an aptly named character if there ever was one) is the most central character. DON'T READ FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS FOR THE PREDICTABLE PLOT.

How people can enjoy a story that features a recently widowed man whose greatest sadness and regreat is not for a) losing his wife's loving presence or b) his childrens' woes, but c) he is now perforce chaste and sexually frustrated, his priggishness and self-absorption making any other woman unappealing: That is until he meets an equally self-absorbed woman whom he finds initially distasteful because--wait for it--she's a poor housekeeper.

But it gets better! When they finally get in the sack, he is now jealous of her interest and distraction for HER MISSING SON AND HE'S THE POLICE OFFICER ASSIGNED THE TASK OF FINDING HIM!

I'm sorry, but eyewwww! This is like a slow train wreck and I keep reading thinking it cannot get worse! His sister-in-law, a professional and highly credentialed nurse, has tossed it all aside to be a stand-in Mummy/housekeeper. She's as selfless as he is thoughtless. For six months she's been a faithful slave and he cannot even call home to say he won't make it for dinner. (Oh well, this WAS written 1969).

I agree that stylistically she's on top and her characters are well drawn out, if always based on cliches. But hers is a dark world full of really unsympathetic people. Woof!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Absorbing Mystery, focused on Detective Burden
~ ~ - ~ ~
~ ~ This was my absolute favorite Ruth Rendell mystery in the Inspector Wexford series. It takes place in about the middle of the Inspector Wexford/ Detective Burden series. But it is not necessary to be familiar with the detectives, as they are briefly introduced to the reader in each book.

~ ~ Detective Mike Burden's wife has just died, and his sister-in-law is staying at his house to help take care of his two children. He is so utterly miserable, and grief stricken, that he can't see how much they all need him to focus himself on his home life. Partially because of his inability to deal with his personal life, when a 5-year-old boy disappears, he throws himself whole-heartedly into the investigation. He becomes over involved with the boy's mother. The recent disappearance of a 12-year-old girl makes the case more worrisome.

~ ~ Ruth Rendell is a master of plot twists and turns that keep us guessing. The book was very strong in the characterizations of the principal players, not just Burden and Wexford, but also the boy's mother, who clings to hope when it looks grim. Grace, Burden's sister-in-law is also very believable and understandable, as she suffers through the pain of Burden's family, who need his focus back at home.

~ ~ "No More Dying, Then!" is absorbing and captivating. It is a great way to start reading the Inspector Wexford mysteries. "

4-0 out of 5 stars A worthy addition to the Wexford series
No More Dying Then is worth reading. It stands on it's own, and it is a worthy addition to the Wexford series. I've been reading Rendell for a couple of years now, primarily because Elizabeth George's work is so often compared to hers.I find the comparison complimentary to both authors. Rendell's early work, including No More Dying Then, is less complex in plot and character development than both her later work and all of George's work. Regardless, Rendell's stories are interesting, and her characters are believable. No More Dying Then is generally a satisfying work. The relationships and thought-processes are well-crafted and authentic. The red herrings are fun, and the ending is a bit of a suprise. Plus, there is enough bizarre and deviant behavior to entertain a second milennium audience without excruciating detail, for those of us who prefer not to know too much...

I have been reading Rendell's work in order of publication (a personal preference when authors are as prolific as she), and I have thoroughly enjoyed the development of both Wexford and Burden. I get the feeling that Rendell likes her main characters and cares about their lives. As a result I care about them, and want to know more about them. ... Read more

17. Road Rage (A Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery)
by Ruth Rendell
Mass Market Paperback: 400 Pages (1998-09-08)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0440226023
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The woods outside of Kingsmarkham were lovely, dark, and deep.  And they were about to vanish forever when the new highway cut through them.  While Chief Inspector Wexford privately despaired about the loss of his hiking grounds, local residents and outsiders were organizing a massive protest.  Some of them were desperate enough to kidnap five hostages and threaten to kill them.  One hostage was Wexford's wife, Dora.  Now, combining high technology with his extraordinary detecting skills, Wexford and his team race to find the kidnappers' whereabouts.  Because someone has crossed from political belief to fanaticism, and as the first body is found, good intentions may become Wexford's personal path to hell.Amazon.com Review
Nobody has a better ear for the whine of the unloved andunderappreciated than Ruth Rendell. Early in this Inspector Wexfordadventure, a young woman who was bound and gagged during a robberydemands victim counseling; not long after, families of some peopletaken hostage quickly cluster themselves into a support group. Thetitular "road rage" is equally timely and politicallycorrect: protestors have gathered from around the world to stop, bywhatever means they can, a new motorway that will cut through some ofthe woods surrounding Wexford's fictional but endearing village ofKingsmarkham. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not up to Ruth Rendell's usual standard
For those not familiar with the author, this is an excellant book, but not the best introduction to her work.For her fans, this has to be considered minor.It's unusual to find Rendell delving into issues such as environmentalism, and she does well in characterizing the various levels of environmental protesters.The issue is highway construction and its effect on the environment. She also gets Inspector Wexford personally involved in this case in which ecoterrorists kidnap and hold five people including the good inspector's wife as hostages, threatening to kill them if the group's demands are not met.The trouble, at least for me, is the fact that we readers don't become fully involved.The characters just are not fully developed, and the writing is not as sharply defined as we expect from the author.The story wanders a bit and the book is longer than necessary.Ruth Rendell's earlier books are sharp and to the point while this one isn't.If you are a Rendell fan, by all means read this one, but don't expect it to be as engrossing as her earlier works.

5-0 out of 5 stars reassuring
I thoroughly enjoyed this book mostly since it reassured me of my own.
Robert E. Milliken author of, Stupid In Montana As America

2-0 out of 5 stars Road Rage
Not as good as most Ruth Rendell books.Lots of characters and no character development, and this includes all the police staff in the book.As a result the middle of book seems muddled and you never really care what happens to them.If you must keep track of Inspector Wexford read it otherwise don't bother.

5-0 out of 5 stars A typical Wexford novel - excellent!
Rendell has done it again! This is a masterful mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Wexford's beloved Kingsmarkham is a village divided. A new bypass is scheduled to be constructed, and protesters descend on the quiet little town, causing havoc everywhere. Dora Wexford is kidnapped on the way to the train station. Within hours, it becomes apparent that four other people have been kidnapped as well, and what seemed like innocent protests take on a sinister cast.

Despite his personal involvement, Wexford is placed in charge of the investigation. Seemingly stymied, he still manages to pull off a grand unveiling of perpetrators in true Rendell style. Endless plot twists and larger-than-life characters have definitely made this my favourite of the Wexford novels.

Fans of Rendell's style of writing will be thrilled with this relatively recent effort, and if you're not yet a fan, this wouldn't be a bad place to start. I totally lost myself in this one, and I'm sorry it's over.

4-0 out of 5 stars Superior as always!
Ms. Rendell never disappoints, and this book is no exception.It is not for nothing that Ms. Rendell is considered to be the best writer of detective fiction around today.This book's subject is quite timely in that it explores the world of big business and construction against the effect on the environment.It also explores the issue of domestic terrorism.It's a page turner especially because Wexford's own wife is one of the kidnap victims who a radical environmental group is threatening to murder if their demands are not met.Wexford and his team race against time to learn the identity and whereabouts of the kidnappers.Certainly, Ms. Rendell is one of the best writers in this modern world! ... Read more

18. The Fever Tree and Other Stories
by Ruth Rendell
 Hardcover: 191 Pages (1983-02)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$70.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394529162
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In this collection of eleven stories, murder is committed for reasons of fear, jealously, cupidity, and out of sheer compulsion, while the settings include an African game park, a sinister ruined cemetery, an East Anglian seaside resort, and the gloomy purlieus of Epping Forest. ... Read more

19. Put on by Cunning
by Ruth Rendell
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1992)

Asin: B000MY51BM
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20. Kissing the Gunner's Daughter: An Inspctor Wexford Novel
by Ruth Rendell
Paperback: 368 Pages (1997-03)

Isbn: 0770425151
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars It is a bit overlong
Readers new to Ruth Rendell will not likely mind the length, but many of us miss the usual clear cut and to the point style of her earlier works. I will mention that her novels under the Barbara Vine psuedonym are a different story altogether.Those books are lengthy because of the nature of the material in those books.Still this is an engrossing mystery and with a suitably unexpected solution at the end.

3-0 out of 5 stars Stick to the plot, will you?
Allow me to begin with a fatuous little complaint: The cover art on my paperback edition created the impression among peers that I was reading a romance novel. As a 20something heterosexual male, I found this rather annoying. A good mystery novel should not embarrass the reader!

Cover art aside, I found Gunner's Daughter less enjoyable than I expected. Ms Rendell is a competent writer and has woven a fair number of plot threads together, but the work as a whole was somewhat unsatisfying. It was, I told others when describing the book, as if a romance novelist had written a murder mystery without changing her style. Too many paragraphs are devoted to things which I would just as soon have left out; I understand the desire to portray full and multifaceted characters, but could the protagonist please spend less time agonizing over his prospective son-in-law, for instance? The plot dragged needlessly at times, and in these instances I fell back on pure determination to see the story through rather than intense personal interest in the characters or the writing. Reading shouldn't be like that.

Please do not get me wrong- I do not devote my reading hours purely to Travis McGee or Honor Harrington, and when this book was over I was fairly satisfied that my time had been well spent. I simply feel compelled to caution prospective readers who might otherwise be expecting excitement, suspense, or any of the other trappings of a mystery novel.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good police procedural with a weak ending
Chief Inspector Wexford, protagonist in many Rendell books, investigates the shooting death, in an apparent robbery, of a well-known writer in her home, along with most of her family.The only survivor and eyewitness is the teenage granddaughter, Daisy, wounded and depressed.As the police investigate, a number of suspicious characters complicate the process; while Wexford's own strained relations with his daughter Sheila make Daisy's plight more poignant.

This longish mystery, with well-drawn characters, plenty of red herrings and several social classes, is enjoyable until the end.The book comes to a rapid conclusion, as Wexford uncovers the truth in a burst of insight and detection, while short-changing evidence gathering.


4-0 out of 5 stars My Introduction To Reginald Wexford
I read this book in college for a Detective Fiction course and I loved it.I liked this book so much I went on to read about half a dozen other novels that Ruth Rendell has written about Reginald Wexford.This book isn't so much a mysterious whodunnit as it is about the private life of the detective, Reginald Wexford.It is pretty easy to figure out who commited the murders at the beginning of the book, but Wexford's reasoning is clouded somewhat by his personal life and his relationship with his younger daughter Sheila.If you aren't interested in reading a novel that is mostly social commentary, as most of the Wexford novels are, and are more into a murder mysteries that are hard to figure out, then this may not be the novel for you.If you are interested in reading about social trends that are current, and are written in an interesting fashion, I strongly recommmend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars a compelling mystery
A great story; good to the last word in the book. ... Read more

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