A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while.
One particular member of the local press is gunning for the Chief Inspector, distinctly unimpressed with what he regards as old-fashioned police methods. But Wexford, with his old friend and partner, Mike Burden, along with two new recruits to the Kingsmarkham team, pursue their inquiries with a diligence and humanity that make Ruth Rendell's detective stories enthralling, exciting, and very touching.
©2005 Ruth Rendell; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"[Rendell is] flat-out brilliant." (The New York Times)
"Prolific three-time Edgar winner Rendell proves a master at rendering the joys and sorrows of human relationships, from amicable marriages to the cruel practice of preying on sterile women desperate to have children." (Booklist)
I quite enjoyed this book. I had never read any of the "Inspector Wexford" books by Ruth Rendell, and was relieved that I didn't have to have read any of them before. What made the book so interesting is how Rendell follows the step-by-step of the investigation along with the happenings in the personal lives of the investigators. There was an interesting red herring that certainly kept me wondering how to put all the information together. This is really a "thinking persons" detective story, it doesn't have a lot of the traditional action you see in most detective stories and thrillers. Books in a similar vein I enjoyed were The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston, and One Dangerous Lady by Jane Stanton Hitchcock.
While the characters were quite enjoyable, they all were meshed together in a way that defied coincidence. This was more than the "suspending disbelief" that is necessary in some books, and to me, really detracted from the story. I enjoyed listening to the story unfold, it just got too wacky and almost amateurish at the end.
This starts out fine but the closer you get to finding out what really happened, the more ridiculous it gets. No one is stupid enough to believe what the women in this book apparently believed. No one. I usually like the Inspector Wexford books but this one was a waste of a credit. I only gave it 2 stars because the narrator was good. It is rather annoying, however, that they are using so many different narrators for the Wexford series. They really should stick to one for the whole series.
When it takes the Chief Inspector the whole last chapter to explain the case to his associates something is missing. I have heard most of John Lee's readings and have never until now wished that I had missed one. He is the best but even John Lee can not save this one!
Hearing a Wexford mystery is quite a different experience than actively reading it - there is so much complexity that I had to rewind to catch up on parts I'd missed either because of falling asleep at night, or getting distracted. But, as usual with Rendell stories, the plot includes complex issues and psychological motives that surprise.
The narrator John Lee is excellent, and gave believable voices to the various characters.
This is one of my favorite Ruth Rendell books, and the audio rendering is terrific. John Lee is the best Wexford narrator, in my opinion.
The story has complexity, and the central characters are particularly rich in this book. You don't need to read the Wexford books in order (no spoilers between books) but the characters do age and evolve over time, which makes the Inspector and his companions much less like cardboard cutouts and more like real people who happen to have jobs solving crimes.
This is my first Ruth Rendell book and I was a bit disappointed. It just never seem to get off the ground and didn't flow well. It's an ok summer listen, I guess but I doubt I'll download another one of hers. The reader did a fine job and there was nothing grossly wrong with the book - just rather blah.
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