Ruth Rendell's latest, "The Vault," is a sequel of sorts to 1998's "A Sight for Sore Eyes," but it isn't necessary to have read the latter before enjoying the former. Here, Chief Inspector Wexford has retired at long last, and he and Dora are splitting their time between staying in the London carriage house owned by actress daugher Sheila and their own home in Kingsmarkham, near their social worker daughter Sylvia. Although he has much to fill his time, Wexford finds that he misses police work, and when four bodies are discovered in the semi-concealed coal cellar of a famous house, he is happy to lend his assistance to Detective Superintendent Tom Ede, a rather stuffy but competent policeman. Three of the bodies had apparently been placed in the cellar some 12 years earlier, but the fourth is a more recent addition, not more than two years old, and the question becomes whether the same person killed all four, and who exactly those four were in life. In the meantime, daughter Sylvia is attacked, and finding out what happened there becomes far more important to Wexford, for a time at least.... It's always a treat to read a new Ruth Rendell novel, and it's especially nice to find Wexford back again, after readers had been led to believe that she was finished with writing about him. Having him a retired person now provides Rendell with different angles in which to present his personality and capacities, and I hope she continues with this much-loved character well into the future. The tale itself is not as gripping as some of her novels are, but it nevertheless held my interest and even fooled me at the end! Recommended.
First Sentence: A curious world we live in,” said Franklin Merton, “where one can afford a house but not a picture of a house.”
While I loved that Rendell opened the story by providing the history of a house involved in the crime, there was one section which, had her writing been less good, would have made the book a wallbanger for me. However, I quickly moved past that feeling and felt that first chapter was a corker.
Her style struck me as a bit simplistic, in the beginning, but I quickly moved past that as well. I loved all the literary references and Wexford’s comment of how nice it would be to be an fictional detective…”I’m an amateur detective now but I haven’t got Lord Peter’s right of entry into a suspect’s home or a right to question him or her.” I enjoyed the look at his personal life; the relationship with his family at a point of crisis.
I enjoyed the mystery but did feel finding the clues relied a big heavily on coincidence, one of which even the character acknowledged, which was nice. I read a non-Wexford a long time ago and hated it. I’m happy to say, this may have changed my attitude to where I would think of reading another in this series.
THE VAULT (Pol Prod-Inspec. Wexfield (Ret)-England-Contemp) – G+