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Speaker of Mandarin: An Inspector Wexford Mystery (Inspector Wexford #12)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,700 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Chief Inspector Wexford is in China, visiting ancient tombs and palaces with a group of British tourists. After their return to England, one of his fellow tourists is found murdered. As he questions other members of the group, Wexford finds secrets of greed, treachery, theft, and adultery, leading the distressed inspector to ask not who is innocent, but who is least guilty ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published November 21st 2012 by Fawcett (first published 1983)
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Bettie☯





Read by.................. Michael Bryant
Total Runtime......... 5 Hours 52 Mins

Description: Chief Inspector Wexford is in China visiting ancient tombs and palaces with a group of British tourists. After their return to England, one of his fellow tourists is found murdered - a burglary it seems, but Wexford has other ideas. As he questions other members of the group, Wexford finds secrets of greed, treachery, theft, and adultery, leading the distressed inspector to ask not who is innocent, but who
...more
Ellen
Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell.

Chief Inspector Wexford is on a trip in china. A long trip and a very uncomfortable trip with none of the conveniences of home. While on a short boat ride with other tourists a man falls overboard and appears to be lost at sea. All this occurs while Wexford's hallucination of an elderly Chinese woman appearing continues without reason.
The Chief Inspector returns home and finds himself once again in the midst of a murder that needs solving. A wealthy woman, A
...more
Margie
Dec 23, 2012 Margie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, series, u-k
I liked some of the twists in this mystery. After reading some of the other reviews, I'll concede that Rendell doesn't tell us much about Wexford (the detective) - I felt comfortable with him because I've read so many of the Wexford mysteries and perhaps didn't notice how scant her descriptions were.

It's was definitely the mystery itself (and its various subplots) that engaged me. I found the racism rather unpalatable, though. It's hard to believe that this was written only thirty years ago. The
...more
Jillian
Nov 28, 2013 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked what some reviewers disliked - the trip to China that begins the book and influences the way Wexford approaches the murder. His observations of people and places shape our understanding of the world of the book and crimes of its characters. Rendell is so skilful a storyteller - a lovely rhythm and balance to the writing and juxtaposing of events; behaviour and thinking processes based on character traits that are predictable but never stereotyped. An ordinary enough murder and a great re ...more
Kieran
May 27, 2014 Kieran rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Racist in a 1970's way.
Jaksen
Jul 07, 2015 Jaksen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another in the long Inspector Wexford series by Ruth Rendell, and by far one of her best.

In this one a man's wife is found dead, shot in the back of the head, shortly after they've returned from a trip to China. There are A LOT of suspects here, including almost every member of the tour group. There are A LOT of clues and information for both Wexford, his sidekick Burden, and anyone reading this book to process, consider, kick aside, or set in the omg-that's-probably-it column of the brain. (I s
...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 1998.

This is a short member of the Inspector Wexford series of crime novels. The first half describes a holiday he had in China; the second his investigation of the murder of a middle-aged woman who was on a coach-party he met there.

The description of the trip to China is the most interesting part of the novel; the murder and investigation seem almost to have been put in to pad the novel out and to fit it in with the general themes of the series.

The ju
...more
Leslie
Jul 17, 2016 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As beautifully written as all of her books are, this entry in Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series was not my favorite. It was interesting, but excruciatingly dated with respect to the references to China, where the story begins, and rather ho-hum overall once Wexford leaves China. In fact, his visit to China is rather surreal and creepy...really my favorite part of the book.

Part of the problem for me was really not reading the book in its entirety within a few days. I started it and got 50 p
...more
Nancy
Feb 06, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, listened-to
This was just the right length Audio book for driving from Eugene Oregon to Boise Idaho. The reader, Michael Bryant, made the book. (I suspect that it would have been 3 stars if I'd read it.)

The book starts with a trip to 1980's China that turns out to tie into a a murder that Wexford is called to investigate back home in England. Ruth Rendell throws in plenty of red herrings that whiled away the miles.
Jean
Number 12 in Ruth Rendell's Inpector Wexford Series feels different from the earlier ones, being partly set in China. Wexford's consumption of green tea throughout the novel gives a slightly heady cast to the proceedings, and makes both him and the reader wonder if he is bringing his usual clear-headed analysis to the crime.
Becky Mowat
Oct 03, 2014 Becky Mowat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This mystery is fascinating! Especially if you've ever wanted to tour China, which has been on my "bucket list" forever. Rendell builds her characters throughout with her wry observations! Her writing is brilliant! You will stay hooked by the intriguing plot and masterful, clever writing. This mystery has it all!
Mary
Feb 22, 2010 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as riveting as some of the other books in the Wexford series, due to the first third of the book being a travelogue of sorts detailing a trip to China. Interesting, but not as seamless as it might have been. Many red herrings here, and a good one to try to figure out before the last chapter.
Özgür Özer
Aug 05, 2016 Özgür Özer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ob, cin
Ruth Rendell polisiyenin büyük ustalarından birisi. Parola: Mandarin de onun Müfettiş Wexford serisinin 12. kitabı. Pek sürprizli olmaması bana sürpriz oldu. Sizi biraz Çin'de gezdiriyor önce. Sonra İngiltere'ye geri dönüyorsunuz. Özellikle bu türe meraklıysanız, okunabilir derim. İki verdim.
Laila (BigReadingLife)
My least favorite Inspector Wexford title so far. I didn't really get into it until the last third of the book, which is unusual for me. I think the first third of the book, which is set in China - a departure from the norm - distracted me.
Lucy Barnhouse
I thought this was a very strong installment in the Wexford series, creatively and subtly plotted. As an aficionado of mystery novels, I admire and enjoy the skilled placement of clues, and Rendell's construction here is extremely clever. Also, I thought it functioned as a striking indictment of racism and Orientalism. While both of these are present, and as distasteful as other reviews indicate, I didn't read these as reflecting the attitude of the author. I appreciated, in fact, that Wexford i ...more
Jan
May 18, 2017 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
One of the better in the series - but still only ok.
Brian
Oct 18, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reminds me of the "golden-age" books. A country house murder, shifty family, mysterious strangers.
The first third is set in China and very atmospheric, before we get back to Kingsmarkham and murder
The ending, although not cheating as such, is unsatisfactory. The build up demanded more of a climax, instead it's just Wexford and Burden talking about whodunit after the arrest which we don't see.

4 stars still
A.A. Abbott
Jan 07, 2017 A.A. Abbott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ENGLISH COZY MYSTERY

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books are the epitome of the English cozy mystery, unlike the somewhat darker stories (often written as Barbara Vine) which do not feature the good inspector. In 'The Speaker of Mandarin', Wexford tears himself away from his beat in an English country town to go on vacation in China. Despite hallucinating from the gallons of green tea he drinks each day (at one point, he imagines a centuries-old mummy is sharing his sleeper berth), the biggest
...more
Maria Thermann
May 01, 2015 Maria Thermann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this Chief Inspector Wexford murder mystery author Ruth Rendell plays on words in the title, as will become apparent at the very end. It's a cleverly woven plot with herrings as red and bountiful as Mao Tse Tung's flags and China's blood-soaked history. However, the last few pages reveal a murderer in a hurry, somebody we've hardly seen or heard from in the novel; for this reason, I've marked the novel down to a disappointing and un-Rendell like three star rating.

I felt cheated - how should o
...more
Hal
Jan 14, 2015 Hal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After finishing this book, I realized -- sadly -- that I have now read all of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series. I found this to be one of the weaker entries in a generally splendid set of books. What I liked best about the series is that Rendell let the characters grow and age and evolve. The leading figures are nuanced, not stick figures.

I have read that Rendell does not plan to add any more volumes to the series. I can see how an author could grow tired of her creations. More to the po
...more
Bibi Rose
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liz
Aug 07, 2013 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rendell-wexford
Inspector Wexford goes to China on police business, and while there, explores the country with a tour group from his native land. He seems to be followed by a mysterious old Chinese lady with bound feet – he sees her everywhere! But is she a real person or a figment of his imagination. A man falls from the tour boat and drowns in the river. One of the ladies says dismissively, “Not one of us. A Chinese.” But when that same lady – who owns a country home in Wexford’s district – is found murdered ...more
Jessi
I hadn't read a Rendell before but wasn't surprised by how much I enjoyed it because my mother is a huge fan and our reading tastes tend to overlap.
Rendell came a little later than the three queens of the English mystery but her work is very like Sayers, Marsh, and Christie showing off a lovely little snippet of English life through the telling of a mystery.
When the book opens, Inspector Wexford is in China, sort of enjoying a holiday but there at the request of a friend? I missed the explanatio
...more
Kathleen O'Nan
Jun 15, 2015 Kathleen O'Nan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wexford novel number 12 - and I'm still intrigued by the main characters. This time Wexford travels to China, initially as part of a group of British cops who will discuss policing with their Chinese counterparts, a jaunt organized by Wexford's son-in-law on the London force. Little is said about this but the novel launches into the 2 weeks that Wexford spends afterwards on a train/boat tour of China. Very interesting. Then he returns home and the mystery at hand begins. The actual perpetrator i ...more
Rebecca
Aug 06, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Inspector Wexford travels to China on business with free time to travel with other tourists. He wonders if something is wrong with him because he keeps seeing an old Chinese woman with bound feet. When he returns home, a wealthy local woman is found murdered in her home. The Inspector realizes she was a member of his China tour. With a lot of twists and turns, and too much Chinese history, the Inspector solves the mystery. This is the second Inspector Wexford mystery, and in both, two wealthy ol ...more
Pamela Mclaren
Wexford goes to China on a trip he should enjoy. He drinks copious amounts of green tea and seas an elderly Chinese woman hobbling on bound feet. Does he really see her?

Meanwhile, he runs into a group of tourists from a train and tries to figure out what is going on. It is only when he gets home again and one of them is killed that the clues start to come together on what happened in China — and in murder.
Margaret
Chief Inspector Wexford is in China, visiting ancient tombs & palaces w/ a group of British tourists. After their return to England, one of his fellow tourists is found murdered. As he questions other members of the group, Wexford finds secrets of greed, treachery, theft, & adultery, leading the distressed inspector to ask not who is innocent, but who is least guilty . . .
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
read this quite a long time ago but like all of Ruth Rendell's works, found it enjoy
...more
Barbara
Another solid and inventive book in the wonderful Inspector Wexford series ... Rendell once again surprised me with the solution to the case which had Wexford and Burden pursuing varying lines of inquiry ... many of which arise out of Wexford's holiday in China which forms the first part of the novel.

Published in 1983, the story had me wondering how different Rendell's descriptions would be of China and Wexford (and the tourist's) interactions with China were it written today ...
David Zerangue
Nov 09, 2010 David Zerangue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This story was a classically composed 'whodunit' with many twists and turns. The classic Inspector Wexford is assigned to solve the case. Ms. Rendell does an excellent job of throwing out paths that are dead ends for the reader yet are entertaining and loosely tied to the overall story as well. Certainly not a highly complicated book but certainly an enjoyable and read. The novel is not written in a highly formal manner which allows for a relaxed reading style.
Sara
Jun 15, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12th in the Inspector Wexford series - previously I had read only her novels which are much darker with convoluted characters. This was beautifully and surprisingly constructed with interesting characters and a surprising but quite believable outcome. I may go back and read more of Inspector Wexford...
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10890
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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