Harm Done Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I would have expected Rendell to weave together the 3 sub-plots (the abducted girls, the pedophile, and the kidnapped toddler) in a shocking, revelatory way, but she doesn't. The book feels more like 2 novellas and a short story, with Wexford as the common thread.
I appreciate the feminist consciousness that Rendell's been weaving into the Wexford novels; it makes a great counterpoint to her visions of female evil and criminality.
However, I found the presentation of the battered-woman plot strangely cold. Even the sympathetic "good man" Wexford remains an outside observer, unable to comprehend the horrible events he discovers, and so the reader does too. *Harm Done* falls short of the tragic power and immediacy of Roddy Doyle's *The Woman who Walked into Doors*.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on March 9 2002 by Liz
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 morePublished on Feb. 9 2002 by Nancy Trease
I really liked this book. Other reviewers have written that they thought there were too many unconnected stories. Read morePublished on May 26 2001 by A reader
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 morePublished on Nov. 19 2000 by moviegoer
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 morePublished on Oct. 20 2000 by Suspense Fan
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 morePublished on Aug. 11 2000 by sbtier
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
Rendell layers her stories, and it is always fascinating to see how the plots and characters intersect. Read morePublished on July 17 2000 by Joe Da Rold
I had never read one of Ruth Rendell's works before, and based on this one, I probably never will again. Read morePublished on April 30 2000 by Jill Renee Kreuer