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

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Overall I felt that this was a solid if unremarkable start to the Wexford line of novels but it is one that gives me hope for when the time comes to read some of the later installments.

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. Parsons led an extremely uneventful life, being a lay preacher, but Inspector Wexford is intrigued when he is looki. Given that those starred one of my favorite actors, George Baker, I am not sure quite how I have achieved that. I also remember Hardiman as the Demon Headmaster though my strongest association for him was a guest spot he did on Doctor Who. 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.I have watched many shows on Acorn TV of British detectives and Wexford reminds me of many that I appreciate not only for the exploration of the criminal mind but also of human psychology all against the backdrop of diverse socioeconomic topics so if opportunity presents I know that I will continue reading this series or watch some of the stories that were adapted for TV. It then says that a read-through of Rendell’s oeuvre is like reading a social history of England from 1964 to the present.

There is very little for Wexford to go on but for a discarded match and an inscription on some of Margaret's books signed 'Doon'. Rendell's England is less than quaint (despite the amounts of tea put away), her world is distinctly darker and its denizens are distinctly more immoral. 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. Read them and tell me they don’t add affects that would be hard to narrate without sounding like propaganda. From Doon with Death, now in a striking new paperback edition, is her classic debut novel -- and the book that introduced one of the most popular sleuths of the twentieth century.One of my strongest memories growing up was my mother’s stack of Ruth Rendell and Colin Dexter novels, one of which always seemed to be on hand for those sorts of occasions in which you were stuck in a waiting room. Now, I have had some success with Barbara Vine (though not infallible success), and have liked Ruth Rendell less, in spite of their being the same person. Wexford brings a somewhat cold, calm, matter-of-factness to the investigation and that prohibited me from bonding with his character in any way. It's been almost twenty years since I read it, and there has always been a niggling in the back of my mind to get back to her eventually.

I have mentioned that at times I have found not having the appropriate context or period knowledge to be a barrier in solving an older crime novel but here I feel that not belonging to the mindset of that period makes it easier to predict where it was headed and lessens the power of the ending. 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. As one reads the novel it's important to realize that it was originally published in 1964 and reveals British law at the time of publication.Although the identity of the victim's lover "Doon" would not be much of a surprise to the 21st century reader, at the time of its release it was considered ground-breaking and daring, and this novel immediately garnered Rendell international critical attention. From Doon with Death (the origin of the 'Doon' nickname is never explained in the book as far as I noticed) was quite a clever mystery with a radical (for its time) twist in its reveal ending.

Although a fairly short novel, it is filled with intrigue as Wexford and Burden investigate the murder of a seemingly friendless, quiet wife named Margaret Parsons. As Rendell explains in her Afterword, From Doon with Death was originally written as a one-off standalone. That is an unnecessarily complicated way of saying that I'll try a couple more books by Rendell to see if they become "must reads. I was about 2/3 through, thinking it was well written, interesting, but not yet sensing it was truly special. 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 dislike detective series, I find it to be lazy writing more often than not and generally stay away from them. From long experience Burden knew that whatever may happen in detective fiction, coincidence is more common than conspiracy in real life. I thought that there was a fair number of clues for the reader which allowed you to make the leap to the solution somewhat ahead of Wexford and Burden.

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