Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reading Ruth Rendell

The people at the now defunct Black Orchid Bookshop (A glorious store) sold me a copy of From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell. It's the first Inspector Wexford novel. Now, though I tend to write shoot'em ups, I do enjoy the occassional polite police detective story and apparently Rendell is one of the best at it.

In this story, a housewife goes missing, soon to be found dead. Strangled, in fact. An array of suspects needs to be whittled down and, of course, some are easily discarded due to alibis or other reasons. Still, Wexford is left with several people who need to be pressed*.

The pressing happens and the riddle is solved.

On the whole, I found the experience a bit cold. The prose is solid, the plot is sans hole, but the Inspector is about as colorless a main character as I've ever read. I assume Wexford takes off and becomes memorable in other volumes in the series. Otherwise, I can't see a reason to call the story "An Inspector Wexford Mystery."

While the plot was okay, it wasn't enough to carry the story on its shoulders to greatness. A good book, but certainly not the best I've read so far this year.

* Pressed, but not like with an iron. That would have been a very different novel. Probably an Inspector Brant from Mr. Bruen.


Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

He grows on you over time. His marrige gets more interesting; his relationship with his kids.
I think her stand-alones are stronger.
And her Barbara Vines.
At the time, he (Wexford) didn't stand out as aloof and prosaic but I can see what you mean.
Went to hear her speak once at Waterstones and she was much the same way. When someone made a remark about the city they took place in (Kingsmarkam?) she said, well, I invented it, didn't I? Not warm and cuddly.

June 03, 2008 3:28 PM  

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