"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
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.