2010: 23. The Monster in the Box


“He had never told anyone.  The strange relationship, if it could be called that, had gone on for years, and he had never breathed a word about it.”

The Monster in the Box, Ruth Rendell

     This the latest Wexford mystery, and it’s in a slight change of pace from earlier books, in that the current mystery (which starts out with a busy-body-ish concern about whether a local Muslim girl is being pushed into a forced marriage, and then - eventually - turns into her disappearance) is wrapped up in an ancient mystery.  Specifically, a man moved into Kingsmarkham who Wexford has long suspected of being a murderer.  Since his earliest days on the force Wexford has secretly been convinced that Eric Targo is a killer - and that he’s been taunting him about it.  He’s never told anyone - he has no evidence and fears that he’d be considered crazy, but Targo’s reappearance in town after many years drives him to tell his partner/friend Mike Burden of his suspicions.  The novel goes back and forth between Wexford’s first days as a police officer and the current crime.  It’s a nice story - it feels, in many ways like it might be the last Wexford, as it often has an elegiac feel.  The last couple Wexford books have been some what of a disappointment, so it’s nice to leave him (if that’s what this is) on a high note.  Rendell’s interests seem to have drifted from the sort of cozy mysteries that Wexford represents to her psychopaths, and the random connections between people that can change lives forever, but it’s nice that she worked out one last Wexford for us.

Also, I only have one Wexford left that I haven’t read! Lots of standalone Rendells, but only one Wexford, so expect that in this space soon.

Date/Place Completed: June 2010; D.C.

Categories: Ruth Rendell Project; Library Book 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017