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Harm Done [Paperback]

Ruth Rendell
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars No Harm Done Here July 1 2001
By Marcie
Format:Paperback
I have just stumbled upon some of the great books by Ruth Rendell, the first being "A Sight for Sore Eyes" which I absolutely loved. "Harm Done" was the 2nd book I read (actually listened to on audiobook) and liked it too, but not as well as the first. I was really getting into the story line about the girls who mysteriously disappeared, then returned in a few days unwilling or unable to tell police what had happened to them. I was sure the pedophile brought into the story was the culprit, but the two things had nothing to do with the other. I was a bit disappointed when the explanation came out midway through the book and it wasn't anything to get too worked up about. Then the author went on a completely different track with the abused woman plot. I guess they did all tie in together as the abused woman's baby had turned up missing too. I liked the book and will be reading more of Ruth Rendell's work, but I prefer the books that are more suspense and less Inspector Wexford.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Skillful and complex Aug. 4 2000
Format:Hardcover
In her 18th novel featuring Inspector Wexford Rendell weaves together multiple plots involving two missing teen-age girls, a convicted pedophile returning to his residence in Kingsmarkham and the mob violence his return touches off, and a little girl missing from an upper middle class home. Not all of these plots work well together, which is why I have given it only 4 stars.
However, the central plot about the missing little girl is what captured me. The story that Ruth Rendell tells of the effects of domestic violence on an entire family is chilling and heartbreaking. Not only does the wife and mother suffer extreme mental and physical abuse but the two children remaining in the home are clearly adversely affected. The effects of domestic violence will be felt in this family long after their escape from abuse. Rendell builds an atmosphere of suspense and dread that can only be a small reflection of the terror of living in such a situation, but the empathetic reader will be much affected. There can be no real happy ending to this story, at least not immediately. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well drawn and believable characters, especially that of Inspector Wexford who is faced with a real moral dilemma.
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5.0 out of 5 stars There's no 'Harm Done' in Rendell's latest! April 24 2000
Format:Hardcover
In her latest Inspector Wexford mystery, Ruth Rendell adds another notch to her string of mystery "wins"! While it may (or may not) be her best Wexford installment, her latest "Harm Done" certainly is one of my favorites. The author--ever so aware of current issues--does not shy away from yet another socially significant and controversial issue. In fact, she tackles more than one in this thriller.
For starters, a pedophile is released from prison to live in one of the council
houses in Kingsmarkham. Naturally, the community is literally up in arms. And, more to the point, this novel addresses spouse and child abuse in its various forms, and the readers cannot escape this thematic approach to another of our societal aberrations. Along the way, a policeman is killed by a mob protesting the pedophile's presence, and, eventually enough, there is a murder for Wexford to solve.
The inspector is not without his trusty assistant Mike Burden, and plod they do to solve the case, as much by intuition as by logic and cold facts. Wexford has made a reputation for being able to "sense" the solution in the previous Rendell books. Kingsmarkham, too, has become a regular community in literary geography. The book begins with the disappearance of a teen aged girl, who, miraculously re-appears three days later; in one week, another teenager disappears, and then re-appears. The third person to go missing, next, however, is a three-year old child and the community becomes aflame with violence, as they lay the crime to the pedophile. Mob action follows and in their "reactions," the policeman is killed by a firebomb.
Rendell's penchant for social issues makes her works worth reading anyway; if nothing else they raise a sense of social consciousness and awareness.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best, but not Bad! Jan. 3 2000
Format:Hardcover
A friend who glanced at this book sniffed, "I don't know how you can read those English who-killed-the-vicar-in-the-library things, I don't have the patience", and I had to laugh because this is just about as opposite a novel as you can get. This book has three themes, the disappearance of two young women; an elderly pedophile released from prison; and a severely abused housewife. Ms. Rendell writes so well, detailing the hellish life of the housewife in stomach-roiling detail. She also includes some of her deliciously psychotic character studies, and of course all this is seen through the eyes of dear familiar Insp. Wexford. There is a trace of humor in this book involving the inhabitants of a lowish class housing development picketing the old reprobate's apartment, singing "Stand By Your Kids" to the tune of "Stand By Your Man", and similar silliness that would make Jerry Springer feel right at home! Sally Jesse, Maury Povich, and Jenny Jones would fit right into this modern day England, and not a vicar in sight! I am only giving it 4 stars because the stories do not tie together and they meander somewhat, this is not Ms. Rendell's usual top=notch work. Also, Ms. Rendell and Insp. Wexford are both getting up there in years, and I hope she goes on writing forever, but there are hints the refined and compassionate policeman may be getting weary of the crazy modern day world that is not only lived in England, but all over. I hope Ms. Rendell has many, many more novels in her yet and we will see her policeman back on top of the game. When she is great, words cannot express the deep emotional impact her novels have on my psyche. When she is merely good, as in "Harm Done", she is still sublime. Rather than 4 stars, let me give this a "9" on a one to ten scale. I look forward to her next books, both Wexford and non-Wexford.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not A Speaker Of Mandarin Yet No Harm Done
It is quite difficult to witness Reg (Inspector) and Dora Wexford being pulled into the twenty-first century beset with political correctness, domestic violence, ad hoc babysitting... Read more
Published on March 9 2002 by Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars Domestic violence a topic for Wexford mystery
Wexford and his elder daughter appear in one of the later Wexford mysteries. Although the plot is simple it is anything but easy to unravel as it moves toward the end. Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2002 by Nancy Trease
5.0 out of 5 stars No Harm Done
I really liked this book. Other reviewers have written that they thought there were too many unconnected stories. Read more
Published on May 26 2001 by A reader
1.0 out of 5 stars very disappointed
The Inspector Wexford series is one of my favorites. Rendell is at her best with this character. I was hungry for a mystery and bought it in hardback as soon as it appeared on... Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2000 by moviegoer
3.0 out of 5 stars some harm done
This Inspector Wexford mystery is definitely not Rendell's best. I have read most of her novels and there are only a few that are not absolute masterpieces. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2000 by Suspense Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Rendell's best
It is such a pleasure to read Rendell, I was sorry to have to reach the end of this complex novel. Rendell doesn't follow the usual sequence of crime, investigation, resolution. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2000 by sbtier
1.0 out of 5 stars The day when Mystery dyed
The day when Mystery dyed was the day when mystery turned Politically Correct. How sad. Somehow I hoped, that my favourite writer and the British Mystery will be saved, but no...
Published on July 22 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, but not memorable
Rendell layers her stories, and it is always fascinating to see how the plots and characters intersect. Read more
Published on July 17 2000 by Joe Da Rold
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
I had never read one of Ruth Rendell's works before, and based on this one, I probably never will again. Read more
Published on April 30 2000 by Jill Renee Kreuer
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I've read one other Rendell book and enjoyed it. However, this one left me disappointed. As several other reviewers noted, the three plot lines about the abductions of two young... Read more
Published on April 15 2000
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