Ruth Rendell, bestselling mystery and suspense writer and politician, has passed away at the age of 85. Rendell leaves behind more than 60 books which have been treasured and anticipated by readers by decades.
Her first novel From Doon With Death introduced her most well-known character Inspector Wexford.
“When Margaret Parsons disappears, Inspector Burden tries to reassure her frantic husband that she will be back by morning. Privately, though, he is certain Margaret has run off with another man. But then the missing woman’s body is found, strangled and abandoned in a nearby wood. And when Mr. Parsons lets the police into his home, a startling discovery leads everyone to question just who Margaret Parsons really was . . .”
Inspector Wexford is said to be the male equivalent of Rendell – he is a prolific reader, a liberal thinker, quiet, taciturn and prone to hunches. Wexford has been active in his field for more than 50 years, his 24th and final adventure was No Man’s Nightingale.
“A female Vicar named Sarah Hussein is discovered strangled in her Kingsmarkham Vicarage. The gossipy cleaning woman who discovers her body, Maxine, happens to also be in the employ of retired Chief Inspector Wexford and his wife. When detective inspector Mike Burden calls him, Wexford, intrigued by the unusual circumstances of the murder, leaps at the chance to tag along with the investigators. A single-mother to a teenage girl, Hussein was a woman working in a male-dominated profession. Moreover, she was of mixed race and working to modernize the church. Could racism or sexism played a factor in her murder?”
“When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair — until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend. A devilishly handsome novelist, James Derain resembles Cary Grant, but his strident comments about Grace’s doctoral thesis soon puncture the house’s idyllic atmosphere. When he and Andrew witness their friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, James begins to unravel, and what happens next will change the lives of everyone in the house.”
Ruth Rendell has guarded her private life fiercely over the years, but was unusually forthcoming in an interview with The Independent in 2013. Her childhood was known to be unhappy and she opened up about being separated from her mother when she was evacuated in World War II, about her parents’ unhappy marriage, and her guilt over her mother’s MS diagnosis and how it was poorly understood at the time. Rendell puzzled many be divorcing her husband of 20 years only to re-marry him two years later. This act she declined to speak any more about prefering to take this last secret with her.