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An Unkindness of Ravens: An Inspector Wxford Mystery [Mass Market Paperback]

Ruth Rendell
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Review Dec 6 2001
An Unkindness of Ravens (1985) is the first Rendell novel I have read for four years, and it shows her gifts´¿characterisation and plotting´¿at their best, as she combines a scathing look at political extremism, the psychology of adolescent girls, and a gripping police procedural, with themes of feminism, extremism, teenagers vs. parents, women vs. men, poor vs. rich, and paedophilia.
At the heart of the story is Rodney Williams, a missing bigamist, ´¿two different men´¿ One middle-aged, set in his ways, bored maybe, taking his family for granted, the other young still, even swinging ´¿ making the grade with a young wife´¿, and suspected of having paedophiliac tendencies. It must be noted that the fine revelation of his true character is a genuine surprise. Williams´¿ murder´¿stabbed through the heart, most probably by one of his two wives´¿seems to coincide with a series of stabbing attacks carried out on men approaching, or approached by, young women´¿´¿an extraordinary picture Budd´¿s story had created and one which appealed to his imagination. The dark wet night, the knife flashing purposefully, even frenziedly, the girl running into the rain with a sack slung over her shoulder. It was like an illustration in a fairy book of Andrew Lang, elusive, sinister, and other-worldly´¿. It transpires that these women are all members of the feminist organisation A.R.R.I.A., whose emblem is a ´¿raven woman [with] a face like Britannica or maybe Boadicea, one of those noble, handsome, courageous, fanatical faces, that made you feel like locking up the knives and reaching for the Valium´¿.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Chief Inspector Wexford's neighbor Rodney Williams is reported missing by his wife and what he thinks will be a typical "husband running out on wife" case proves otherwise. As the search for the missing man resumes, Wexford soons finds that Williams was a man of many secrets. The man's penchant for young girls coincides with the popularity of a local feminists group called ARRIA which seems to include every young woman in town. Rendell does a masterful job here of layering new elements to the mystery with every concluding chapter and the outcome eventually turns out to be surprising yet sensible. Rendell is also an expert at molding three dimensional characters with only minimal details (what was the other reviewer reading? ). Overall, well written, literate and satisying.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome Sept. 19 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
I picked up the audio version of this book hoping it would keep my interest for a cross country drive. Instead, I found myself irritated at the tedious pace and extraneous details. I didn't care for any of the characters, and by the time I realized it wasn't going to get any better...I was in too deep and had to finish out the 9+ hours to find out whodunnit. At least it kept me awake for the drive. Nevermore.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 11 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Unconvincing, improbable little fantasy posing as a mystery, with cardboard characters you never really care about. Reads as if the author was more interested in the construction of the novel than in its execution. My first Wexford-Mystery, and probably my last. Not as bleak as her other books, but nowhere near as convincing either.
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4.0 out of 5 stars As good as PD James Feb. 11 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've been looking for an English mystery writer to match PD James and I've found her. Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford is intelligent and cultured, just like Dalgliesh. This was a fun read, interesting, and one that kept me guessing. I'm looking forward to reading more.
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