2014: 10-19.  So Much Ruth Rendell

So, I kind of got into a book rut, where all I did was re-read Ruth Rendell mysteries for the past week straight.  But I legitimized it by going to the library and getting the new Rendell, so I will write about that mostly, and just touch on the re-reads (and hyperlink to my previous reviews)

So, in the past says, five days, I've re-read:

The Blood Doctor and The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, both written as Barbara Vine.  Enjoyed both as much as I did each time I've previously read them (at least three times for each).  Not whodunnits so much as why dunnits, or what happeneds, I cannot get enough of the best Vines (or the ones I like the best - I was surprised that so many people on Amazon.com dinged The Blood Doctor as boring - I loved the slow unfurling of history, the Victorian stuff, etc.  It even made me a little nostalgic for the House of Lords - despite my avowed small-r republicanism).

Sins of the Fathers, A Sleeping Life, Murder Being Once Done, A Guilty Thing Surprised, Death Notes, The Best Man to Die -  All Inspector Wexford novels, and largely early ones at that.  Thus they suffer a bit from being a bit dated (a few turn on shocking! twists! that are not super shocking in this day and age), and generally, I find the Wexfords more soothing, but less interesting than the Vines and stand alone Rendells.  But they passed the time admirably, and I'll likely re-read more in the days to come, at least after I finish my library books and until my next Amazon shipment comes in.  The best of the bunch are probably Murder Being Once Done and Sins of the Fathers (though I'm a little embarrassed for you to read my review of that once, as I actually typed the phrase "Barf-a-roo".  Forgive me, I was younger then*)

No Man's Nightingale, Ruth Rendell

"Maxine was proud of having three jobs."

This is the latest inspector Wexford novel, and while I generally prefer her non-Wexfords (and really, really prefer her writing as Barbara Vines), I liked this one.  I mean, on reflection, the plot suffers from the same problem Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis (or Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple) have - which is to say, if there was this much crazy crime in the small town of Kingsmarkham, it would make national news, but once you get past that, it's ok.**  The actual mystery itself takes a backseat to Wexford, and his relationships with a number of the people involved, which I quite enjoyed (well, I would - makes it more Barbara Vine-y).  The premise is that Wexford has finally retired,*** but Burden, who has taken over his former position, has invited him to consult on a recent case.  It involves the murder of a vicar who happened not just to be a woman, but also to be a person of color, and thus, made a few of the Church of England fuddy-duddies pretty unhappy.  

As I said, I liked watching Wexford grapple with solving crime while no longer being a police officer, and I liked the various characters that Rendell invented.  The solution itself was sort of meh - I thought it was all going to tie up in a slightly different way, and moreover, I was sort of confused because (without giving too much away) the actual murderer was someone I kept confusing with the person that Burden thought did it, and it wasn't until halfway through that I realized that the person Burden arrested wasn't the person I thought it was, and then that person was the actual killer in the end.  And if you can follow that sentence, you yourself should go into detecting.

* In 2009. 

** Of course, in Lewis/Morse's case, if there was that much crime in Oxford, everyone would be fleeing to Cambridge in droves.

*** He sort of had too - I think if the chronology was accurate from the first Wexford he'd be about 120.  I mean, I don't mind that she played with time and dragged out his lifespan, but there is no question he was pretty old in his first books which were so long ago (and are a bit dated, accordingly)

Categories: The Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017