Tuesday, May 15, 2018

From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell

From Doon With Death
by Ruth Rendell [Compact Disc Rendell]

In advance of the April 2017 Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group meeting, where we discussed the entire body of work by British suspense writer Ruth Rendell, I sampled both one of her stand-alone suspense titles, and one of her police procedurals, featuring Inspector Reginald Wexford. This was the Wexford novel.

From Doon With Death is actually the first in the Wexford series, with 23 more to follow if you end up enjoying it. As Rendell put it in interviews, Wexford was “born a 52-year-old-man”. In this novel, he’s already a gruff, seasoned police veteran, one of the more experienced members of the force in a relatively small country community. When a seemingly mild-mannered housewife is killed, with some emotionally-based brutality, Wexford and his young partner have to start digging into lives that on the surface seem placid and normal, but which, under the surface, have a lot of turmoil. The characters in this are extremely well-defined, from the central police investigators to the myriad of suspects in the murder. And, while some the police procedural elements seem quite realistic, there’s also a bit of a laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing that seemed unprofessional.

However, the plot is fairly fast-paced, the sleuths are intriguing, and the ending, while shocking in 1964 standards, when the book came out, is still a bit of a twist even today. I do still recommend this volume, and the Inspector Wexford series in general. If you like these characters, you can also check out the Ruth Rendell Mysteries on DVD, four seasons of a TV series adapting many of her key Wexford novels. You can see a complete list of Rendell’s works in the Just Desserts handout from that meeting.

[ publisher’s official From Doon With Death web page ] | [ publisher’s official Ruth Rendell web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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