©2007 Ruth Rendell; (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
trying to see the world with my ears
I started Rendell with her later Wexford mysteries, but hesitated to spend a credit on this one because it was both older and shorter. I'm glad I finally tired it since it proved a well-wriiten and absorbing mystery made more enjoyable by Rendell's knack for capturing the setting and Wexford's dry wit. The narrator (not favorites Bailey or Anthony) delivers a different but apt voice for Wexford.
The first Inspector Wexford story, this story is a little dated as you'd expect as it's almost fifty years old. I surmised the murderer early but it was still satisfying to hear the story unfold.
Early Ruth Rendell sounds a lot like an Agathy Christie impersonator. It's fine, it's entertaining, the plot is clever, the dialog is witty. But compared to the mature Rendell it is a pale shadow. Probably an essential read for folks who are interested in seeing the arc of a great mystery writer from her early beginnings. A lesser narrator than Terrence Hardiman would have moved this novel to one-star status.
"oddly old fashioned"
This story leaves a curious impression of being 'old fashioned'; this is not a negative observation, but it simply feels as if it has been written in the 1950s or very soon after the war.
The story, a murder, obviously, is interesting and one that seems to reflect a by-gone era when the war was something everyone had lived through and been affected by.
It is also an early Wexford and interesting for that too - how he handles the case, police procedure and the mores of the day. An intriguing case and
a well-told story.
It was interesting to listen to this book as I've seen the TV version a couple of times, but I'd forgotten the ending and so could enjoy the gradual detection process of Wexford's incisive mind. As with other Ruth Rendell novels, there's plenty of psychological disfunction and complex motivations displayed before the killer is revealed.
I believe this is either the first or one of the earliest Inspector Wexford novels. Wexford's character comes over strongly, but Inspector Burdon doesn't figure as prominently as he does in later books.
It's a well-crafted story with false trails but it all hangs together in a satisfactory way and the ending is a bit of a surprise, but not entirely implausible.
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