The Washington Post
End in Tears (Chief Inspector Wexford Series #20)by Ruth Rendell
The first death could have been an accident. When Mavis Ambrose is killed by a falling chunk of concrete, the police have no reason to suspect mischief. However, the bludgeoning of the young and gorgeous Amber Marshalson that follows is clearly murder. In the midst of the hottest summer on record, Inspector Wexford is called in to investigate. He discovers
The first death could have been an accident. When Mavis Ambrose is killed by a falling chunk of concrete, the police have no reason to suspect mischief. However, the bludgeoning of the young and gorgeous Amber Marshalson that follows is clearly murder. In the midst of the hottest summer on record, Inspector Wexford is called in to investigate. He discovers the two cases may be linked, and that Amber was at the scene of Mavis’s death. When a third body is found, the case takes a disturbing and unexpected turn. The deeper Wexford digs, the darker the realities become, and what he finds leaves him feeling lost in a world absent of morals.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Read an Excerpt
End in Tears
By Ruth Rendell
Random HouseRuth Rendell
All right reserved.
When he lifted it off the seat the backpack felt heavier than when he had first put it into the car. He lowered it on to the soft ferny ground. Then he got back into the driving seat to move the car deep into a cave made by hawthorn bushes and brambles, and the hop vines which climbed over everything in this wood. It was late June and the vegetation very dense and luxuriant.
Getting out again and standing back to take a good look, he could barely see the car. Probably he only saw it because he knew it was there. No one else would notice it. He squatted down, hoisted the backpack up on to his shoulders and slowly stood up to his full height. The movement reminded him of something and it was a moment before he realised what it was: lifting up his little son to sit on his shoulders. A hundred years ago, it seemed. The backpack was lighter than the boy but felt heavier to him.
He was afraid that if he stood upright the pack would jerk him backwards and break his spine. Of course it wouldn't. It just felt that way. All the same, he wouldn't stand upright, wouldn't even try it. Instead, he stooped, bending almost double. It wasn't far. He could walk like this the two hundred yards to the bridge. Anyone seeing him from a distance in this half-light would have thought him a humpbacked man.
There was no one to see. The twisty country lane wound round Yorstone Wood and over the bridge. He could have brought the car right up to the bridge but that way it would have been seen, so he had driven off the lane along a ride and then through a clearing to find the hop-grown cave. In the distance he thought he heard a car, then something heavier with a diesel engine. They would be on the road below, Brimhurst Lane that ran from Myfleet to Brimhurst Prideaux, passing under Yorstone Bridge ahead of him. It wasn't far now but it seemed like miles. If his legs gave way he wouldn't be able to get up again. Would it be easier to drag the backpack? What, then, if he met someone? Dragging something looks much more suspicious than carrying it. He pressed his shoulders back a little and, surprisingly, that was better. There was no one to meet. He could see the lane through the trees and the little stone bridge no one had reinforced with steel or replaced with a brightly painted wooden structure.
Its parapets were low, too low for safety, according to the local paper. The paper was always on about this bridge, and the dangers of the lane and the low parapets. He walked out on to the bridge, squatted down and let the backpack slip off his shoulders to the ground. He undid the flaps and then the zip. Inside, now revealed, was a lump of concrete, very roughly spherical, a bit bigger than a soccer ball. A pair of gloves was also inside the pack. To be on the safe side, he put them on. Though it would never come to anyone examining his hands, it would be stupid to scrape or bruise them.
What light remained was fading fast and with the coming of the dark it grew cooler. His watch told him that it was nine fifteen. Not long now. He lifted up the lump of concrete in his gloved hands, thought of balancing it on the parapet in readiness, then thought again. It wasn't beyond the bounds of possibility that someone would come along the path he had used and cross the bridge. Wait for the call, he thought. It won't be long now.
No traffic had passed along the road below since he had come on to the bridge but a car came now, going towards Brimhurst Prideaux, most probably all the way to Kingsmarkham. He closed his hand over the mobile in his pocket, worried because it hadn't rung. Then it rang.
'She's left. You want the number again?'
'I've got it. A silver Honda.'
'A silver Honda. Should be along in four minutes.'
He heard the line close. It was dark now. A car passed under the bridge, heading towards Brimhurst St Mary and Myfleet. The road dipped where the bridge passed over it and then twisted to the left, almost a right-angled bend. There were tall trees on the corner with thick ancient trunks and a black and white arrow sign opposite, pointing traffic to the left. A minute had passed.
He moved across to the other side of the bridge, dragging the backpack behind him, and there he bent down, heaved up the lump of concrete, his arms straining, and set it on the parapet. Just as well it wasn't far to lift it. Another minute gone. A white van with headlights on at full beam came from the Myfleet direction, a car following it, to pass, just behind him, a motorbike coming from Kingsmarkham. He was momentarily blinded by the headlights, held in them, which made him curse. No one should see him. The silver Honda with the number he had memorised would be along soon, very soon. The third minute passed. A fourth.
He hated anticlimaxes. The silver Honda could have taken another route. It was all very well to say it never did but you could never say that, not when it came to the way people behaved. He was facing the way it would come, towards Myfleet. It would pass under the bridge but before it reached the left-hand bend . . . He could see lights in the distance. The lights appeared and disappeared as a hedge or a tree trunk cut them from his view, and appeared again. Two sets of lights, not one car but two, both of them silver, quite close together. One was the Honda but he couldn't tell which, not from here, not in the dark, but he could read the number or the last three digits.
As soon as he had given a great push to the lump on the parapet and felt it drop, he knew he had aimed at the wrong car. The crash was huge, like a bomb. The first car, the one he had hit, ploughed into a tree trunk, its bonnet burst open, its windscreen gone, half its roof caved in. It seemed to have split and exploded. The car behind, undamaged until this point, crashed into its rear and its boot lid sprang open. That was the silver Honda which had been his quarry. As its driver got out of it, screaming, her hands up in the air, he knew he had failed.
He waited no longer but picked up the backpack and moved, looking back once to see the leading car burst into flames. In the brilliant light which illuminated everything he saw for the first time the woman he had tried to kill.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from End in Tears by Ruth Rendell Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for 1976’s best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, The New Girl Friend; a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Date of Birth:
- February 17, 1930
- Place of Birth:
- London, England
- Loughton County High School for Girls, Essex
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Ruth Rendell had a great idea for End in Tears, and it held my interest until the very end, where it completely fell apart. Inspector Wexford and her other characters were well-drawn, as usual, and interesting, but the "solution" was so unbelievable, contrived, and weak that it spoiled the book for me. It was very compelling up until that point, and I couldn't put it down. What a disappointment! I have read nearly all of Ruth Rendell's books, and this ending was not up to her usual high standards. I especially recommend Speaker of Mandarin, From Doon with Death, and Sins of the Fathers, all by Ruth Rendell.
It's incredibly difficult to choose just one Ruth Rendell novel as a favorite, because they are all so wonderful! End in Tears is flawlessly written, captivating and disturbing. I get so excited when Rendell (and her alter-ego Barbara Vine) puts out another book that I rush out to buy it, turn off the phone and settle in for the weekend. This novel definately delivers; when I turned the final page and read the last paragraph I just sat, stunned. If you like her style, I would also recommend: Acid Row, the Devil's Feather, and the Shape of Snake by Minette Walters. Also, you may like Morag Joss, Anita Shreve and Alexander McCall Smith. Under the name Barbara Vine, I loved The Brimstone Wedding, A Fatal Inversion, and A Dark-Adapted Eye.
This is a mystery with characters who are relevant and fascinating to all ages. Ruth Rendell manages to include us all in her tale and also shows a poignant understanding of the social challenges we all have to deal with. The mystery is challenging and the solution somewhat surprising - but shouldn't be...Strongly recommend!
Everyone loves a British whodunit, especially when it comes from the redoubtable pen of Ruth Rendell. This is the 20th story with Inspector General Reg Wexford as the lead character, and time hasn't dimmed his appeal. He may not be a hero to his younger colleagues at the Kingsmarkham police station in Sussex but he is to millions of listeners/readers throughout the world. One reason for his popularity may be his accessability - it's a struggle for him to follow doctor's orders, a losing battle to make him exercise regularly, he has problems with his daughter, and he's not very good at avoiding temptation, although he does sit on his hands when in a pub to avoid the tempting bowl of cashew nuts. As in previous tales he is accompanied by friend and fellow officer Mike Burden. End In Tears focuses on the killing of two young women. At first the deaths seem unrelated. In the initial fatality a hunk of concrete was shoved off an overpass onto a car beneath. Months pass and then another murder - Amber Marshalson is cruelly, almost sadistically beaten to death late at night as she returns from a round of nightspots. Her killer was seen waiting for her, but not identified. Investigation reveals that Amber was driving her car directly behind the car that was crushed. Further, the two cars closely resembled each other. It is also learned that the two women had traveled to Germany together. Burden immediately assumes that drugs are somehow involved. Wexford thinks otherwise. It is now obvious that someone had gone to great lengths to make sure that Amber was dead. But, who and why? Broadway, television and cinema actor Daniel Gerroll has an impressive list of appearances to his credit, including the films Chariots of Fire, Big Business, and 84 Charing Cross Road. British by birth he has a deft way with accents. Gerroll has the voice for this Sussex based mystery. He delivers his tale with polish and just enough world-weariness for the often perplexed Wexford. - Gail Cooke
As usual with Rendell, she has presented exciting and well rounded characters. Unlike many authors, Rendell provides depth to not only her protagonist, Wexford, but to the other members of his investigative team, creating a very realistic atmosphere. The plot is complex with numerous twists and an unexpected red herring. The lack of use of current technology that most police have available is the only issue that kept the ranking to 4 stars. In all other respects, End in Tears is an exciting and beautifully constructed work.