Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Veiled One - Ruth Rendell


Volume 14 of the Wexford series, The Veiled One was written in 1988, about the time the author became seriously famous with the TV series and the creation of Barbara Vine.  It is thus quintessential Rendell with a strong foretaste of Vine - a murder mystery which turns on warped psychology.  There is also an interesting but unlinked subplot referencing the women's protest at Greenham Common.

It all starts in the run-up to Christmas when a woman's body is found in shopping centre carpark which Wexford himself has just left.  Indeed, the body is found close by where his car was parked.  The gruesome twist is that the woman was garrotted, a almost unique method in British murder.  Wexford is sidelined for a time - to explain why would be to spoil the plot - and in his absence Mike Burden takes up the investigation.  He becomes convinced he knows who the murderer is.  Is he right?  That's the beauty of Rendell's craft.  She keeps you guessing right to the end.  She doesn't cheat, she doesn't bend the rules, but relies solely on depth of character to keep you hooked.

A very, very good example of its genre, and as such highly recommended.

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