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The Babes in the Wood [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Ruth Rendell , Nigel Anthony
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2003 Wexford
There hadn't been anything like this kind of rain in living memory. The River Brede had burst its banks, and not a single house in the valley had escaped flooding. Even where Wexford lived, higher up in Kingsmarkham, the waters had nearly reached the mulberry tree in his once immaculate garden...The Subaqua Task Force could find no trace of Giles and Sophie Dade, let alone the woman who was keeping them company, Joanna Troy. But Mrs Dade was still convinced her children were dead. This was an investigation which would call into question many of Wexford's assumptions about the way people behaved, including his own family...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

Wexford fans may be disappointed by the shortage of memorable characters in Rendell's latest mystery to feature the chief inspector, a solid, if not spectacular, entry in the series. As in her previous Wexford, Harm Done (1999), the author explores issues of spousal abuse and focuses on a troubled married couple. The children of Katrina and Roger Dale disappear just as the city of Kingsmarkham is inundated with a flood of quasi-Biblical proportions. Both parents' reactions are somewhat bizarre, with Roger curiously antsy to be done with police questioning to get back to his job and Katrina quite certain her children have already drowned. When the children's babysitter, Joanna Troy, is found dead in a car dumped into a quarry, suspicion points to some icy fundamentalists. These people, from the Church of the Good Gospel, worship at the secluded country estate of Peter Buxton, a media tycoon. Buxton and his high-maintenance wife, the fashion model Sharonne, are among the most interesting fish in this rather bland school. The story becomes progressively more interesting after a slow start, and, as always, Chief Inspector Wexford remains a comfortable companion, with taut, thoughtful and imaginative observations about small-city England and the wider world. FYI: Rendell has won three Edgars, as well as three Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger from Britain's Crime Writers' Association.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Although this isn't the Inspector Wexford novel to give readers new to the series, fans of the detective won't have any trouble picking right up on the Wexford family dynamics or Wexford's relationships with his fellow officers. And once again, Rendell trots out some sharply drawn characters to grab attention (including, of course, the clever, rather curmudgeonly detective himself) and uses the mystery as the catalyst for the characters' growth. Even the miserable rain soaking Sussex becomes a player in this puzzle, adding not only atmosphere but also serving as a takeoff point for the mystery. A teenage brother and sister have gone missing along with their weekend sitter. Have they drowned in the rising floodwater? Have they been kidnapped? When the body of the sitter is discovered alone in her car, the parents are hopeful that their children may be alive. But as time passes, hope dims. Then, suddenly, the daughter surfaces, prompting still more questions: Why did she come back? Where's the boy? And why did the children leave? Wexford gets to the bottom of it all, but readers won't have a clue until the final pages. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wexford gets his feet wet! Nov. 7 2003
Format:Hardcover
"The Babes in the Wood," the latest Inspector Wexford mystery, is a welcomed addition to
the famed Ruth Rendell police procedural series set in England.
Three people have disappeared with few traces. Due to the heavy rains the area of
Kingsmarkam is literally inundated, and it is first assumed, by some, that the three, Joanna Troy,
the baby sittter, and Giles and Sophie Dade, have simply drowned. Of course, Rendell wouldn't
have it so simple and neither would her Inspector. Before long the proverbial body is found and it's
Joanna.
Now the hunt begins for Wexford. Where are the two kids (Giles 15 and Sophie 13)?

Motives for their harm abound. The scene becomes quite complex.
Rendell is simply great with her series; her combination of strong central characters
(Wexford, his family, and Mike Burden, his assistant), a riveting story line, and the usual
outstanding interplay between the characters, the plot, and setting make "Babes in the Wood" a
comfortable companion to the others in this series.
Her fans know that, barring some great literary upheaval, Wexford "will out." The murder
will be solved--this is a given. The author, like others in this genre, most notably P.D. James,
Martha Grimes, and Donna Leon, concentrates on the strength of her central character: his
wisdom and savvy, his personal and internal struggles, his depth of perception, his abilities simly to
solve the case. In addition, Rendell does not hesitate to foray into sensitive and socially significant
issues (spousal and child abuse, racism). Each of her books is an adventure alone, but as the series
progressed the complete picture of a complex and gentle man emerges.
"Babes in the Wood" joints smartly in this stellar series. Wexford, once again, triumphs.
(Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
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5.0 out of 5 stars More from Rendell on top form Dec 14 2002
Format:Hardcover
This has got to be one of the best Wexford tales RR has written yet.
It is brilliantly written, as always, and there is a wonderful cast of characters, all of whom we almost invariably either like or despise. Wexford is on fine form, and he is fascinating as ever. His wry observations of life, and his opinions (while we may not agree with them always) make him seem very human, and he is a very interesting characters for us to see the story through the eyes of. Once again, Burden tags along, and provides an edge of distinct grey in his character. However, this time he doesnt get quite as much of a role as he has in the past.
The plot is original and absolutely fascinating. The way it unfolds is unfalteringly engrossing, and even though this is no thriller, its still a huge pageturner and its intriguing, exciting, and Ruth Rendell builds layer upon layer of nice plot turns into the story.
In the beginning, we are presented with an almost inexplicable set of human behaviours, and, through the events of her plot, Rendell excellently explains why people sometimes act in such strange ways, which is part of the reason why this book is so fascinating. the mystery contains many more levels than just the "who?" or "how?", but she delves deep into the character's psyche's, giving reason to every single characters often strange actions. Finding out "why" people do such strange things is almost as compelling as the mystery itself.
Along the way, we are also presented with some more brilliant story from wexford's own family life. Topping the book off is the fact that Kingsmarkham is flooding, which gives the story an extra layer of originality and interest, and also allowing her plot to go down different, more unconventional avenues.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAINING AND POWERFUL Oct. 7 2003
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
Shakespearean trained actor Nigel Anthony gives noteworthy voice to the crusty and sometimes cranky Inspector Wexford in this aptly named mystery by the celebrated Ruth Rendell.
The scene is Sussex during a torrential rain. Atmospheric? Of course. Add to this the mysterious disappearance of two teenagers. The pair, as well as the sitter who was staying with them for the weekend, have evidently vanished into thin air.
Some may assume that the trio have drowned in the rising waters. However, the sitter's body is later found alone in the car. There is not a trace of or a clue to the whereabouts of the sister and brother. Since they were not in the car their parents, of course, cling to the hope that they're still alive.
As she always does, author Rendell thoroughly probes the psyches of her characters, giving listeners an entertaining and powerful listening experience.
- Gail Cooke
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