The Vault (Ruth Rendell)

By Ruth RendellFirst published: UK: Hutchinson, 2011 ★★ The "vault" is what Wexford (now retired) calls the cellar of Orcadia Cottage, where four skeletons are found. At the end of A Sight for Sore Eyes, there were three bodies down there.  We know whose they were.  What, then, is the fourth corpse doing down there? Wexford, armed with … Continue reading The Vault (Ruth Rendell)

A Spot of Folly (Ruth Rendell)

By Ruth RendellFirst published: UK: Profile, 2017 Hauntings, possession, and Aztec sacrifice - plus the more standard murder, deceit, and deception - are here in the last collection of Ruth Rendell's short stories. Rendell was one of the all-time great mystery short story writers; hell, I'd even drop "mystery". They're neat, deftly constructed, and perfectly formed; … Continue reading A Spot of Folly (Ruth Rendell)

The Water’s Lovely (Ruth Rendell)

By Ruth RendellFirst published: UK, Hutchinson, 2006; US, Crown ★★ The Water's Lovely is romantic comedy, Rendell-style. Middle-class Londoners look for love, get married, and lose partners. It's like a Richard Curtis film, only with a drowned body in a bathtub, and a little rape. Heather probably murdered her stepfather at the age of 13; her … Continue reading The Water’s Lovely (Ruth Rendell)

A Sight for Sore Eyes (Ruth Rendell)

By Ruth RendellFirst published: UK: Hutchinson, 1998; US: Crown ★★★★ They fuck you up, your mum and dad.They may not mean to, but they do.They fill you with the faults they hadAnd add some extra, just for you. - Philip Larkin Working-class Teddy Brex's parents neglect him – and produce a psychopath, who prefers objects to people. … Continue reading A Sight for Sore Eyes (Ruth Rendell)

The Killing Doll (Ruth Rendell)

By Ruth RendellFirst published: UK: Hutchinson, 1984; US: Pantheon Books ★ This is a bad case of magical thinking. "The winter before he was sixteen, Pup sold his soul to the devil." That's leaving it rather late; I was already seven when I lit guttering candles, did unspeakable things to a goat, and delivered up … Continue reading The Killing Doll (Ruth Rendell)

From Doon with Death (Ruth Rendell)

By Ruth RendellFirst published: UK: John Long, 1964 Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC ★★ This is Rendell's first  – and it’s a dreary story, with a  not-quite-clever -enough twist. Rendell''s interest really lies in the human situation, rather than the detection (which is routine and unfair).  The crime is as featureless and uninteresting as you can find. … Continue reading From Doon with Death (Ruth Rendell)

Detective fiction: A brief overview

From Sherlock Holmes to WWI The modern detective story is generally considered to have begun in 1887, when the immortal Sherlock Holmes appeared in A Study in Scarlet.  The work wasn't a success, but the long series of short stories, beginning in 1891 with "A Scandal in Bohemia", made Holmes, and his creator, Arthur Conan … Continue reading Detective fiction: A brief overview