Posted 20 hours ago

From Doon With Death: A Wexford Case - 50th Anniversary Edition (Wexford, 1)

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I thought that there was a fair number of clues for the reader which allowed you to make the leap to the solution somewhat ahead of Wexford and Burden. What makes me sad is that Terrence Hardiman, who did such an amazing job narrating this, did not record the later stories when they were turned into audiobooks as I had loved his voicing of Wexford and Rendell’s prose. I must confess that as I reached the 40% marker or so, I was worried that this might get a bit dull and disuade me from the series.

Let’s face it, the clues in this case are fairly slight so it was a pleasant surprise that she manages to lay a convincing trail to the killer with such a weak starting point. One of my favourite books is A Sight for Sore Eyes, a standalone by Ruth Rendell, a mystery where she masterfully took a few storylines that ultimately converged. Unusually, Rendell does not make any of the characters particularly sympathetic and that adds to the reality of the crime and suspects. Rendell's England is less than quaint (despite the amounts of tea put away), her world is distinctly darker and its denizens are distinctly more immoral. And yet, it is fairly easy to guess who the murderer is (although, it probably wasn't the case when it was first published).I am reading some contemporary detective series, but i am getting tired of the alternate timelines and multiple POVs.

Indeed, From Doon With Death, the first Wexford novel, focuses on the mystery of the death of a somewhat rather dowdy housewife who goes missing and then turns up dead.Also, as a side note, don't forget that this book was written in 1964 and thus attitudes are a bit dated. I presumed Rendell wrote in the vein of the classic/ golden age mystery novel, but ‘No Man’s Nightingale’ didn’t seem to fit into this vein. Although Ruth Rendell does use certain stereotypes, it is clear that she has laid down a great basis for further books - Wexford is plain talking, intelligent and not easily swayed by a pretty face; Burdon a great sidekick and the small town of Kingsmarkham well described. Murder Being Once Done Wexford is drawn to the case of a young woman found murdered in a London cemetery vault. A good read that is written in an old fashioned style that introduces the main characters and sets up the series.

There's an art to writing a police procedural that is also a village mystery, and Rendell is the consummate artist. One of the hosts, Meredith, is a huge Louise Penny fan, as I was for the first eight novels of her series. Whether the reader is surprised by where the novel goes, I think the appeal of the book is in the very competent execution of those ideas. The home life is completely absent and the character is not given to quoting Shakespeare or other classics. Add him to my list of preferred readers, pleasantly British, expressive, with good variation between different characters.In the 2007 edition of the novel published by Ballantine Books there is a "Dossier" by the author in which she shares, "I realized that I had put an enormous amount of me-and to some extent my father-into him. I kind of get a kick out of reading books that have Shocking Content (for their time), but because of the way society has evolved, the content that was shocking before is no longer shocking and indeed has become sort of — you know. The mystery itself was a bit obvious, but it was fun watching the detectives reach the conclusion that Rendell blatantly gave to the reader pretty early on. Now, I have had some success with Barbara Vine (though not infallible success), and have liked Ruth Rendell less, in spite of their being the same person. It is not so much that this story could not be told today but that it would be told differently and our sympathies might be expected to be somewhat different.

Ruth Rendell’s references to Victorian poetry of love’s longing plays well considering the grief-stricken husband who’s lost his wife.

Religious, old-fashioned, and respectable, her life had been as spotless and ordinary as her home, as unexciting and dependable as her marriage. Although the identity of the victim's lover "Doon" would not be much of a surprise to the 21st century reader, at the time of its release it was considered ground-breaking and daring, and this novel immediately garnered Rendell international critical attention. Parsons led an extremely uneventful life, being a lay preacher, but Inspector Wexford is intrigued when he is looking through her belongings and fine a number of expensive antique books all inscribed 'From. I hear her solo stories and other Reginald Wexford / Mike Burden cases are better; a good thing, because I own nearly them all, courtesy of bargain bins! I got into the habit of binge reading or re-reading classic mystery authors during the pandemic and I now find it to be a continuing habit.

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