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

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,184 ratings  ·  48 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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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
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
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
Becky Mowat
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!
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
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.
Juanita Rice

Shoot! This was a disappointment. I only bought it because I recognized the author as the woman who wrote A Dark-Adapted Eye under the name of Barbara Vine. Speaker of Mandarin is billed as "A New Inspector Wexford Mystery," but I am not a knowledgeable mystery/detective fiction fan and I finished the book without retaining a shred of information about the Inspector except what he does, which is inspect, detect. I didn't remember a name, whether or not he was retired, how old he was, and certain
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 ...
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
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My second favorite Wexford novel so far. It starts in China with some good descriptions. Then when he gets back to England, one of those he met is murdered. He has to unravel what happened by uncovering secrets of those who went on the trip.
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
Racist in a 1970's way.
MaryJo VanGompel
I usually love Ruth Rendall so was a bit let down with this one. So-so
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
David Zerangue
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.
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.
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...
Wexford goes on vacation. He goes to China. But while he is there, he keeps seeing an eldery Chinese lady with bound feet. He wonders what is wrong with him. When he gets home, someone who had been on the trip is murdered, and Wexford is the police officer who is called.
Patience is rewarded in this book. A careful and deliberate setup eventually leads to surprises and revelations, as mysterious encounters on a trip to China tie into events back in England for Inspector Wexford.
I like the way Rendell always plays fair with her twist ending, seeding them subtly ahead of time and then triggering them at the denouement. I'm learning to see them a mile away, which is half the fun.
I like all of Ruth Rendell's writing. The story in this was OK. Some of the cultural references were rather mired in the 1980s--something one must endure regularly with older fiction.
Mary Ann
This was ok, but; the story really dragged along, and seemed a bit over done, for the ending result. I have one more to read in this 4 book series, hopefully it will be better.
A pleasant mystery story full of twists and turns.
Inspector Wexford is assigned to solve a case. Not a highly complicated book but certainly an enjoyable read.
It was a good tale up until the very end. I didn't care for that. It made sense, I just didn't care for it. Rendell writes well, though, so I can't complain.
I enjoyed this book, but did not think the trip to China, which filled half the book was really necessary to the story. A chapter would have sufficed.
I like the Inspector Wexford series, this is an old one, she has written tons of them. This was an interesting little mystery with a few twists at the end.
Delightful and clever, and fun to see Wexford in China.
Great Wexford novel - one of the best. Set partly on Wexford's holiday in China and then in London when one of the party is murdered.
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A.K.A. Barbara Vine

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.
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)
From Doon With Death (Inspector Wexford, #1) A Judgement in Stone The Babes in the Wood (Inspector Wexford, #19) A Sight for Sore Eyes Kissing the Gunner's Daughter (Inspector Wexford, #15)

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