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

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This is a reread for me in preparation for our first Ruth Rendell buddy read in the English Mysteries book club starting May 1. Seemingly a classic British murder mystery, much like Christie, whom Rendell apparently disliked and strived to get away from comparisons to, and yet in retrospect very different. However, no one would accuse a career as prolific as Rendell's as lazy and there is something very appealing about her work. Unusually, Rendell does not make any of the characters particularly sympathetic and that adds to the reality of the crime and suspects. 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.

If you’re worried about spoilers, just stop reading this review now and give it a few months before you decide to read the first of Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford mysteries. Ruth Rendell’s references to Victorian poetry of love’s longing plays well considering the grief-stricken husband who’s lost his wife. As Rendell explains in her Afterword, From Doon with Death was originally written as a one-off standalone. I am reading some contemporary detective series, but i am getting tired of the alternate timelines and multiple POVs.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. For some reason I had never read the Wexford novels before and it is a good beginning to the series. There's an art to writing a police procedural that is also a village mystery, and Rendell is the consummate artist. Her characters--even the good-guy cops--are conflicted, flawed, stubborn, and utterly human, and her genre fiction is the best of its kind. From long experience Burden knew that whatever may happen in detective fiction, coincidence is more common than conspiracy in real life.

Why in the world would any one go to the bother of killing and dumping a boring, plain woman like Margaret (Godfrey) Parsons?

However, I do agree strongly with other reviewers that this kindle book had a large number of typos, which is very disappointing. However, I am very pleased to say that at the 50% mark this changed and I became nicely engaged in the story. I surmise Ruth intentionally conveyed a depressed husband and household but that persisted too long, before the appearance of a clue brought any action at all. While it is a manipulative move designed to try to add power to his explanation at the end, I think that information is only needed if something does not occur to the reader that they might figure out for themselves. How is it possible that a woman who had led such a quiet, respectable, unspectacular life could have met such a death of passion and violence?

There is the open-minded attitude Inspector Wexford has towards people who are different from the majority. That presents no memorable personality and in this case, I was glad Reginald was not in the story until later; that Mike is an equal protagonist. What I mean is that having read other Inspector Wexford books, I know that the author takes time to more fully develop Wexford's character as the series progresses. He does a great job here voicing the different characters distinctly and he is easy to follow so I would certainly recommend that recording if audiobooks are your bag.I also remember Hardiman as the Demon Headmaster though my strongest association for him was a guest spot he did on Doctor Who. The way the book is structured, it will all build to a moment in which that identity is revealed and if the reader feels surprised it will likely result in a rush of excitement and general good feeling.

A good read that is written in an old fashioned style that introduces the main characters and sets up the series. And you know the author who did it when it was Shocking was a product of her time, and common wisdom was different then, but still you just feel awkward for her.It isn’t as brilliant as A Dark-Adapted Eye, for example, but it’s a solid detective murder mystery and I enjoyed it. 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.

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