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Not in the Flesh (Inspector Wexford #21)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  2,034 ratings  ·  224 reviews
A new Chief Inspector Wexford mystery from the author who Time magazine has called “the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world.”

When the truffle-hunting dog starts to dig furiously, his master’s first reaction is delight at the size of the clump the dog has unearthed: at the going rate, this one truffle might be worth several hundred pounds. Then the dirt falls
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Published June 10th 2008 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2007)
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This book was dire. The main problem is not the basic plot, although I found that a bit confused, it's the "issues" the book goes on about in a stupid and sometimes offensive way.

"His taste ran to the colours which suited black skin, those which perhaps only a black man could successfully wear: red, orange, yellow, bright green. Black was a no-no." Funny, I'm sure I've seen more black people wearing black clothes than bright green. I've also seen plenty of non-black people wearing those colours
This one was great!

I listened to this on CD, narrated by Simon Vance. First of all, the narration was 'spot on,' and the complexity and variety of voices, accents, inflections, all of it, were superb. I will look for more books, especially by Rendell, which are narrated by Mr. Vance.

The story...

Two bodies are found in a wooded area owned by a man, Grimble, who has inherited the land and wants to build four houses on it. He even started a drainage ditch before he gets approval to build. However,
A long-buried body is unearthed in Flagford, England - on the property of grouchy John Grimble - and Chief Inspector Wexford and his team investigate. The detectives learn that Grimble dug a trench eleven years before to prepare the property for additional homes. Denied permission to build the houses an incensed Grimble filled in the trench - which by then apparently contained a dead body. Soon afterwards another set of human remains is found on Grimble's property, in his old abandoned home. Thi ...more
Ruth Rendell is a very good writer. She creates three-dimensional characters, brings her settings and scenarios to life, and pulls the reader into her stories. Unfortunately, though, Not in the Flesh is not a very intriguing mystery. There were too many disparate story lines, too many giant coincidences, too much time between the murder and the discovery of the body (eleven years) for witness recollections to be believable. (Who remembers seeing a stranger wearing a particular T-shirt after elev ...more
Reading a book starring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford (this is the 21st in the series) is like a long visit with an old friend. Like the rest of us, Wexford is aging and the process has turned him into a grumpy older man. He is forever frustrating his adult daughter and his wife, he hates anything to do with computers and the internet, and thinks that the world has become overfamiliar. In this latest adventure, a truffle sniffing dog (who is trespassing with his master) finds a dead body inst ...more
Kasey Jueds
My life has become so much better since I accepted Ruth Rendell as my personal savior.
Jayne Charles
It's a long time since my last rendezvous with Wexford and his chums, and I have missed some of his more recent outings. It's interesting to note the way he reacts to changes in the world around him over the years. Now he's forced to drink wine the poor love, and all his staff have taken to calling him 'Guv' because that's what happens on 'The Bill'. Rather less blood and gore than your average murder mystery, though the (slightly incongruous) subplot involving the Somali family is calculated to ...more
It was a little jarring to go right from Dickens to Ruth Rendell, because her mysteries are kind of the opposite of a Victorian picaresque, but I did enjoy this one once I acclimated to the velocity of it and got focused on keeping track of the details, e.g.: Which one is Vivian and which one is Vera? What’s the inscription in Hexham’s ring again? There really is no one better than Rendell when it comes to casting out and then tying up a million loose ends. Speaking of velocity, however, this bo ...more

It’s difficult to review a mystery without giving too much away. In this case, all I need to say is that Ruth Rendell has written her typically good Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. The characters are familiar, they’re older, but they act as they always have.

A relatively new character, Detective Sergeant Hannah Goldsmith, makes an interesting foil for Wexford’s reflections on age and a changing society.

A familiar character, Inspector Mike Burden, “...had at last, regretfully, discarded his desi
Bea Alden
Oct 08, 2008 Bea Alden rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women
Shelves: mystery
Another of Ruth Rendell's tours de force - a magnificent murder mystery with a complicated plot, driven by sinister psychological motivations, told in a day to day narrative that puzzles the reader while seeming to bring it all down to earth.

However, it's the the sub-theme of female genital mutilation that makes this Rendell mystery particularly important. The Queen has honored Ruth Rendell for her lifetime of fine writing, making her a Life Peer and member of the House of Lords, with the title
Jackie Jameson
I SELDOM (spoken in an British accent) don't finish any book I've started to read. But "this here one I did." (Alabama)
I read and liked the novel "13 Steps Down". I was quite prepared to enjoy this one too. I figured out "who done it" fairly early on. If there was a big ole' kaboomer of an ending, I missed it and didn't care. No likeable characters, NO one to root for. If justice was served, they pronounced it with a yawn. Love her writing..trying again with "Adam And Eve And Pinch Me". Horrible
This book probably deserves more than two stars but less than three, maybe two and a half. I did like it, but it did not have the compelling quality of Kate Atkinson's mysteries. About halfway through the book, the reader still didn't know anything (nor did the characters for that matter). It was frustrating--I think clues in a murder mystery are better scattered throughout the book to keep the reader interested rather than just bewildered or slightly bored. And the tangential storyline about FG ...more
A body gets found in an old overgrown field by a dog walker. It is quickly established that the body has been there for around 10 years, and could not have died from natural causes. In good old fashioned detective story style, we have several suspects. There is grumpy John Grimble, owner of the field where the body was found. Grimble is your arch-typical does-not-get-on-with-authority-person. He wanted to develop the fields into housing, but this was not allowed. Indeed, he has started already t ...more
I enjoyed this book but it didn’t seem too different from the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, except for way better editing. There is the relatively well-adjusted Inspector (in this case, a family man who is even a grandfather), without an alcohol problem (although he likes a glass of red wine now and then), assisted by a number of detective constables of various races and genders, including a black male who disconcerts witnesses, and a white female who struggles with a weight probl ...more
Jill Hutchinson
The late Ruth Rendell has always been one of my favorite British mystery writers and her recent death will be felt by all who loved her writing. In this book, part of the Chief Inspector Wexford series, we are dealing with two murders of unknown men whose unidentified bodies are found in close proximity to an abandoned house....and they have been there for quite a while. The house which is an eyesore in the quaint village in which it is located may or may not actually have anything to do with th ...more
Since discovering Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series last year, I have become a huge admirer. I have read all but one of the novels -- and that is next one my list! -- but I must sadly say that "Not in the Flesh" is the weakest offering I have seen from this distinguished author. Most of her work is true literary fiction of the highest level. However, I found this book to be more of a potboiler.

There is an unpleasant and unnecessary subplot that contributes nothing to the story. I imagine
I enjoyed listening to Simon Vance read this book to me as as I rode back from visiting my new grandson in Boise. His voices for each character brought out their personalities and helped me keep track of who was who. In a change from the usual formula of murder mysteries, no one is killed in the present day. Bodies are found that have decayed to the extent that they are difficult to identify which helps make this a believable police procedural.
Rather funnier in odd ways than some of her other books.
The storyline was a bit messy. I found one of the subplots a bit of a forced distraction. The main story depended upon so many coincidences as to be completely improbable. And I kept wondering why Inspector Wexford wasn't doing some things that seemed very obviously called for.
But some fascinating (if unlikeable) characters, and Rendell's usual fine writing.
Sandi Willis
This was my first Ruth Rendell book. I enjoyed the book but I got confused a few times as to who was speaking. That can happen when you listen to the books. The story begins when a man and his dog are in a field looking for truffles and come across a dead body. Inspector Wexford and his team gets the case and begin a complected search for the killer. There are many people that are interviewed. One "family" that is interviewed is a man, a writer, and his wife, and his ex wife that all live togeth ...more
Another solid effort from Ruth Rendell in her Wexford series. The story line about Somali women and female genital mutilation, while interesting, seemed a bit "tacked on" to the story and had nothing to do with the actual case. Other than that, I enjoyed this book very much.
A satisfying read. The man-and-his-dog who appear in the first chapter don't put in another appearance till the last one, and there is indeed a huge cast of characters.

What holds the interest in this book is that though the plot is wholly believable, it's quite impossible to guess where it's really going until well towards the end of the book. There's a plot, and a sub-plot. There are characters who look at first as though they're there to make the numbers up. They aren't. Each has an imprtant
This is #21 of the Wexford series; I think I've given up on reading them in order. This was a great one; the perpetrators are really creepy, and things get very twisted about, but of course Wexford, Burden and the rest of the team figure it all out, putting together what happened 11 years ago after two bodies are found. The death of the true author was such a tragedy; he and his family were so loving and they could have had an amzing uplifting life were his not cut short. The story-within-a stor ...more
When the dog's owner sees his dog digging furiously he is excited. Perhaps it is a truffle for which he can get money. He is not excited when he investigates further and realizes what the dog has actually dug up--a human hand.

The local Kingsmarkham, Sussex police, led by Chief Inspector Wexford, first have to identify the body. The medical examiner finds it is a male who has been dead for at least a decade. Further investigation determines that the field in which the corpse has been found had a
Anne Hawn Smith
Sep 14, 2009 Anne Hawn Smith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: mystery
This was one of the better Inspector Wexford novels. The story centers around an old house left to fall to ruins when the owner, the son of the original owner, is not allowed by the planning commission to tear the house down and build 4 houses on the lot. He had a friend dig a trench for the water mains before he received the permission and has to fill it back in. In the few days it is unfilled, someone puts a body in it which is then buried by the backfiller. Eleven years pass before a truffle ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Heather rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inspector Wexford fans
This is a strange one. The central mystery seems like a plot Rendell drafted back in 1975 and stuck in a drawer because it wasn't working out convincingly...then pulled out last year and tried to update the details and graft on a modern subplot.

The resolution of the mystery turns on at least one COMPLETELY implausible coincidence.
The depiction of the village and its residents seems very very dated.

Even the best-selling novel that's at the heart of the mystery seems like something that would hav
Rendell, Ruth. NOT IN THE FLESH. (2007). ****. Ruth Rendell is certainly not a slacker when it comes to writing intelligent police procedurals. This is another in her series featuring Chief Inspector Wexford. One day, a long-time resident of Kingsmarkham – obviously one of the most criminous towns in England – was working with his dog hunting for truffles. The trained dog had found quite a few when he was suddenly working on a spot under a tree and turned up what turned out to be a skeletal huma ...more
This is an interesting story and the plot moves along well. Like other Rendell/Vine novels, the plot is complex and the characters are interesting. Even though the writing is excellent overall, however, I have noticed that either the author's writing is becoming somewhat sloppy or my judgments are becoming harsher. It is obvious that publishers don't spend money on editors these days and that is most apparent in the writing of masters such as Rendell. The lapses in construction and style stand o ...more
Nov 18, 2008 J. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: .. all mysterians ...
Shelves: mystery, rendell
The policier is a realistic accounting of crime and investigation, also known as a 'police procedural'. At it's most literal and direct it can be a satisfying and powerful narrative that sets out it's conflict early and then slowly but inevitably winds around to the resolution.

At a more evolved level, as in this Ruth Rendell title, it's a symphonic exploration of the way the world balances; a haphazard universe relentlessly realigning iself as the case unfolds, with events, characters, locales,
Amanda Patterson
I have read every Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine (her darker alias) novel. I may be prejudiced.
I enjoy her Wexford novels. Not in the Flesh is one of the best for a long time. Some of Ms Vine's dark thoughts have crept into this book and it works well. It gives one of my favourite old school detectives the edge he needs to fight another few books.
Rendell excels in uncovering our darkest fears and she is the mistress of turning the mundane into the monstrous. A Sight for Sore Eyes still haunts me.
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A.K.A. Barbara Vine

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, was an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries and above all for Inspector Wexford.
More about Ruth Rendell...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Wexford (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • From Doon With Death (Inspector Wexford, #1)
  • A New Lease of Death (Inspector Wexford, #2)
  • Wolf to the Slaughter (Inspector Wexford, #3)
  • The Best Man to Die (Inspector Wexford, #4)
  • A Guilty Thing Surprised (Inspector Wexford, #5)
  • No More Dying Then (Inspector Wexford, #6)
  • Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford, #7)
  • Some Lie and Some Die (Inspector Wexford, #8)
  • Shake Hands Forever (Inspector Wexford, #9)
  • A Sleeping Life (Inspector Wexford, #10)

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