In the best whodunit tradition, Rendell advances her plot through surprises, some transparent enough to satisfy the engaged reader, others so shocking they dash all calculations.
The New York Times Book Review
Ruth Rendell published From Doon with Death, the first of her Chief Inspector Wexford novels, in 1964. So it is not surprising that the old boy finds himself in codgerly company these days. Ms. Rendell has ghoulish fun with the assorted elderly, eccentric characters who bedevil him in Not in the Flesh, which is only the third of her Wexford books to appear in this present century. When not chronicling the exploits of this unflappable police detective, Ms. Rendell has written vigorous, clever stand-alone fiction (most notably The Water's Lovely last year). But the Wexford books, while more restrained, amount to reunions with an old chum.
The New York Times
In addition to solving two long-ago murders, Chief Inspector Wexford is troubled by female genital mutilation in the local Somali community. The temptation would be to cut the subplot, but this abridgment retains the richness of the novel. Tim Curry's performance is splendid, even better than Daniel Gerroll's excellent performance of Rendell's End in Tears. Curry does a particularly marvelous job with the minor characters, such as the two wives-in-law of a local author, who cackle at the sexual innuendos of their own jokes. Then there's 84-year-old Irene McNeil, alternately supercilious and weepy. Throw in the obsessive Grimbles, on whose land the bodies were found; some migrant fruit-picking Roma; Wexford's family; Somali immigrants; and Curry somehow sounds like a full-cast audio. If only Wexford sounded less like his assistant Burden, the performance would be absolutely perfect. A Crown hardcover (reviewed online). (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The prolific Rendell (or Barbara Vine, depending on what you're reading) offers her 21st Chief Inspector Wexford novel. Readers watch as a truffle-hunting suburbanite and his dog stumble across a long-buried body on a vacant property. Upon investigation, Wexford and his team uncover a second murder victim in the basement of the abandoned house on the property. The crimes were committed so long ago that the bodies themselves yield few clues, but the neighbors all seem to have reasons to be cast in a suspicious light. Wexford embarks on an arduous probe in an effort to unravel the mystery, encountering along the way the usual odd assortment of characters. Interspersed in his investigation is an odd subplot involving the genital mutilation of young Somali immigrants in Britain. As always, Wexford endures modern (and in his opinion, less civilized) British society and patiently prods his suspects until they reveal all. Not quite as compelling in tone as some of Rendell's other works but complex enough to satisfy any mystery fan. Recommended for all public libraries.
Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford and his Kingsmarkham colleagues (End in Tears, 2005, etc.) deal with not one but two bodies of men whose relatives long ago gave up hope of ever hearing from them again. Jim Belbury's truffle dog makes the first discovery: a man interred 11 years ago in a drainage ditch. John Grimble and his friend Bill Runge had dug the ditch back when Grimble expected permission to replace the tumbledown house on Old Grimble's Field with four new homes. They filled in the ditch when permission was denied. DI Mike Burden, searching the boarded-up house, finds a second corpse, this one waiting eight years in its underclothes to be found. Ancient former neighbor Irene McNeil tells Wexford that her late husband Ron shot the intruder in self-defense when he brandished a knife, and for a time it seems that the killers may be easier to identify than the victims. New inquiries into open missing-persons cases and repeated conversations with other neighbors-especially dying fantasy novelist Owen Tredown and the two wives, present and past, who live with him-only deepen the mystery. Back in the present, Wexford's daughter Sheila, cast in the starring role in a film adaptation of Tredown's most famous book, tries to enlist her father in the battle against the circumcision of young Somali girls in the neighborhood-a episode that at least hints at a happy ending. Rich, tangled and as sharply observed as ever.
Ghoulish fun.... The height of her malevolent powers. Rendell can do whatever she likes and still get away with it.”
—The New York Times
“Vivid and witty. Wexford is his usual smart, compassionate self as he unravels a web of lies and deception larger than any of the characters realize.”
—Los Angeles Times
“To call Ruth Rendell prolific is akin to calling the Grand Canyon a slight dip in the landscape. . . . Not in the Flesh is the work of a writer who continues to command respect and satisfy her legion of writers.”
“The unflappable detective still hasn’t worn out his welcome.... A fine example of Rendell’s sharp writing, intelligence, and humanity.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“In the best whodunit tradition, Rendell advances her plot through surprises...so shocking they dash all calculations.”
—The New York Times Book Review