2009: 77. The Best Man To Die

Jack Pertwee was getting married in the morning and the Kingsmarkham and District Darts Club were in the Dragon to give him what George Carter called a send-off.”

The Best Man To Die, Ruth Rendell

Another Wexford mystery, and a sort of a goofy one.  Jack Pertwee is getting married and his best friend, Charlie Hatton is there to celebrate with him the night before.  But Jack’s happy plans are ruined when Charlie is killed that night going home from the stag party.  Wexford is tasked with solving Charlie’s death, and figuring out who would want to kill a small time crook - and Charlie’s surprising extra income comes from.  The mystery itself is fine (although I figured out the ending, which I almost NEVER do), but what I thought was so odd is the way Rendell writes the relationship between Jack and Charlie - its all “they are the best of friends”, and “they love each other” and cannot live without each other, and despite their wives just really seems like its supposed to be coded for them being gay - which might be the case, since the book was written in 1969, when such things weren’t really spoken of.  But on the other hand, even her early books do deal with homosexuality (see, SPOILER From Doon With Death) it seems like Rendell is just trying to show how deep the friendship was, making this an oddly clunky book - not at all what I expect from a Rendell mystery.

Date/Place Completed: June 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017