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The Monster in the Box (Inspector Wexford #22)

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  1,957 Ratings  ·  292 Reviews
A new Inspector Wexford novel from the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world? (Time).
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Scribner Book Company (first published 2009)
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Mark
Okay. what I did like...the narration by Nigel Anthony.

As to the rest, it was quite an enthralling story I suppose but it was based on a ridiculous premise. Wexford, when he was a young bobby on the beat, was involved in the investigation of the murder by strangulation of a woman whose husband became the chief suspect.

Wexford, however, was 100% convinced that the murderer was a muscular squat thug with a birthmark called Eric Targo.....(the man was called Targo not the birthmark) and he was cert
...more
Kasey Jueds
Feb 26, 2010 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mystery
How could I not give Ruth Rendell five stars? She is my hero. I told Grace I realized, looking at the back flap of this book, that she's now 80; I'm hoping she lives to be at least 100, because I'm not sure what I'll do when there are No More Wexford Books. (Answer: probably start reading all of them again, which will be OK, because I've already forgotten most of the plots anyway.) (Which is my fault, and due to brain waste--not hers.) Anyway, this is another fabulous Wexford novel; as far as I' ...more
Jaksen
Dec 19, 2015 Jaksen rated it really liked it
Another in the long line of Inspector Wexford novels by Ruth Rendell. This is a good one.

Wexford suspects that a man he knew from long ago is a serial killer. He has no proof of it, just a minor suspicion, but one which is strong enough to last many years. In fact, Wexford has put the 'monster' Eric Targo into a box, one he will only infrequently open and study. Hence the title.

When a few new murders occur and Targo seems to have been nearby at the time, Wexford opens the box in the hopes of new
...more
Karen
Oct 18, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it
Rendell's latest has a dreamy feel to it, and almost an elegiac tone for the lost village of the 50s and 60s, even though all was not perfect in that village. This is her most reflective Wexford so far, alternating the recent past with the 50s, and it's almost as if she is at last rounding out Wexford's character or at least filling in some blanks for all her steadfast fans, but not of course like the typical gimmicky prequel. Being the savvy social commentator she is, Rendell does a marvelous j ...more
Ellen
The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell.

This particular Inspector Wexford novel had me from the moment the first sentence was spoken. A tale of obsession and murder.
The obsession lies with Wexford. This first murder case for Inspector Wexford, a bobby fresh off patrolling the streets, was a most baffling one. It was one that he was never able to bring to a final ending. The murder of a woman found in her own bedroom remained unsolved to this day. But...there was something or someone else that st
...more
Carol Rogers
Mar 07, 2011 Carol Rogers rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this Inspector Wexford book. This book takes place in a more modern setting with mobile phones, computers and modern subject matter, with a throwback to earlier times in Inspector Wexford's life. The Inspector comes up against someone from his past and remembers incidents back when he was working on his first murder case. As always, his personal life and his work are intertwined.

Rendell accurately portrays the past and the present, although the characters seem to have aged slowe
...more
Hilary G
Feb 26, 2013 Hilary G rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I know Ruth Rendell is a good writer. She must be because so many people enjoy her books. I read in a review somewhere or other that Reg Wexford was the most real of all the fictional detectives, and that's probably true. But he is so DULL. He doesn't have any bad habits except a desire to indulge in things that might not be good for him (red wine, nuts and snacks) which he dutifully tries to resist to please his dreary wife. Quirky detectives like Jackson Brodie, ones who sleep with unsuitable ...more
Sarah
May 04, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: i-love-mysteries
Pros: I like Rendell, I like Wexford, I like the class and race awareness that she sprinkles throughout her books (often with considerable humor).

Cons: this book feels like coming in midway through conversation, not just because it's part of a series, but the way she introduces this apparently long-standing character in Wexford life. It took a bit of getting used to. The ending wasn't quite what I expected, and the Afterwards seems ill-conceived.

But - as always - I never seem to regret a Rendel
...more
Barbara
Mar 02, 2010 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
It has been so long since I read a Ruth Rendell novel, I cannot remember which I read. Recently, I have finished several Barbara Vine mysteries and had fallen under her spell. After reading "The Monster in the Box", I had the surprising sense that I was comparing two different authors!Perhaps it is not fair to do so with this one book. Vine's writing seems to have a more heightened tension throughout, with the constant mental question,"where are we going with this?" Each of her characters seem t ...more
Tony
Nov 01, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it
Rendell, Ruth. THE MONSTER IN THE BOX. (2009). ****. This is Ms. Rendell’s twenty-second book in her Inspector Wexford series. It’s hard to believe that it has been going on for that long. In this episode, she takes us back to Wexford’s beginnings on the force, back to a case that has resurfaced into today’s world. Back as a rookie, Wexford was present at his first homicide case – a woman strangled in her bedroom – when he noticed a short, muscular man wearing a scarf and walking a dog. He stare ...more
Richard Blacklock
Feb 21, 2013 Richard Blacklock rated it liked it
I really try to like Ruth Rendell, but after having read "Road Rage" a few years ago, I was somewhat less than impressed. I thought I'd give it another go with "Monster in the Box". I couldn't help but wonder if some of the reviews on the sleeve were a bit, 'over the top', as you'd think she was the next Shakespeare.

This was somewhat better than "Road Rage", but still, as a mystery writer she is average, at best. I honestly can't help but wonder if her fans have ever read other authors. It woul
...more
Jill Hutchinson
As an avid reader of British mysteries, I place Ruth Rendell (and PD James) at the top of the list of current writers of that genre. I feel disloyal when I say that I did not particularly enjoy this novel. I have read most of the Wexford books and have loved them like old friends. But I could not garner much enthusiasm for this one.
The plot, such as it was, proceeded very slowly and revolved around a hunch/obsession which seemed far-fetched, at best. A secondary plot in which the actions of the
...more
Alecia
Nov 29, 2009 Alecia rated it did not like it
I may not even attempt any more Ruth Rendell books. Having once been a fan, I found that lately I can barely finish her works. I find the Inspector Wexford novels especially wordy and non-suspensful. I know that her way is to build up to the ending with a a psychologically intense look at the characters. But I found this book exeptionally boring, and I was itching to be done with it.
Stven
Apr 19, 2014 Stven rated it liked it
I find it interesting reading the late entries in the Inspector Wexford series because Rendell has had him age realistically. In this story there is a thread of emphasis of differences between today's world (published in 2009) and the way things were in the past, mainly in the form of Wexford's own observations and reflections as he fills his colleague Burden in on the details of a criminal he's had his eye on since his earliest days as a policeman. The mystery part of this mystery story is well ...more
Maia
Dec 03, 2009 Maia rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
Well, as usual, a Rendell book is an easy, engaging, at times compelling digest, with a diverse cast of characters, some humor, some pathos, and some quirky red herrings plus secrets/surprises. The problem is, other than the interesting and oftentimes touching insights into Wexford's past (though none, really, very surprising, after so many other books about him) I kept having the feeling throughout that I'd been there, done that. Most of the commentary on modern society, the UK's immigrant situ ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Feb 17, 2012 Shirley Schwartz rated it really liked it
When you read this book you realize that Ms. Rendell is coming to the end of her wonderful Inspector Wexford series. I for one am sad to see this, but look forward to reading her next book "The Vault" which is recently out. In this book the enigmatic Wexford is being haunted by a ghost from his past. A ghost that he first met when he was just a young copper and newly on the force. A ghost who Wexford is convinced is a serial killer, but one that was never brought to justice. And then lo and beho ...more
Mary Overton
"Some years before, when his daughter Sylvia had been taking a course in psychotherapeutic counselling, she had taught him about the 'box' as a means of dealing with anxieties.
"'If you've a problem weighing on your mind, Dad, you have to visualize a box - maybe quite small, the size of a matchbox. You open it and put your worry inside - now don't start laughing. It works. Close the box with the worry inside and put it away somewhere, inside a drawer, say.'
"'Why not throw it in the sea?'
"'That's
...more
Philip
Oct 06, 2009 Philip rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Rendell fans, Wexford fans, Mystery Fans
Recommended to Philip by: Nobody had to!!!
With the publication of FROM DOON WITH DEATH, author Ruth Rendell and her creation, Reginald Wexford, appeared in bookstores at the same time - 1964 to be exact - she was 34 and he was 52. Rendell has said that had she known she would continue writing about Wexford for so long she'd have made him younger at the start!

In THE MONSTER IN THE BOX she gives us what she has never given us before: a glimpse of the pre-DOON Wexford, in a novel which transports the reader back and forth between Wexford's
...more
Joy
Aug 24, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it
Excellent novel about a 40-year long investigation. Wexford's first murder investigation is a wife whose husband wanted to be rid of her. While the husband squeaks free on a technicality, the real murderer has clicked with Wexford to such an extent that he stalks him. Targo teases him with indications of what they both know, but which Wexford can't do a thing about because he has no evidence.

THE MONSTER IN THE BOX: impressive characterization and place setting. I've been reexploring Rendell late
...more
Candy Wood
Aug 31, 2011 Candy Wood added it
Shelves: mysteries
The main concern of this late outing in the Wexford series is nostalgia, or at least contrasts between past and present. Not only Wexford’s Sussex village, but England has changed since the policeman began his career around 40 years ago, and the most significant change for the plot is the presence of Asian, “Moslem” families. Rendell foregrounds the young, female sergeant’s bumbling attempts to be multicultural (“Do call me Hannah”), suggesting that racism is unavoidable. I did enjoy the detecti ...more
judy
Dec 27, 2009 judy rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I would imagine fans of Inspector Wexford would appreciate this book far more than I. It does recount his early romances. Definitely a must-read for the die-hards who have read the previous 21 Wexfords. Rendell is legend in mystery circles and her writing proves the point. This is a classic English procedural but IMHO with some serious plot faults. Avoiding spoilers, I'll just say that far too much of the book proceeds without solid evidence. As for Wexford, who is new to me, I found him singula ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Dec 02, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it liked it
Shelves: jan-feb-2010
Although acknowledging Wexford's fascinating foray back in time, critics expressed mixed opinions about Rendell's latest—perhaps last—Inspector Wexford mystery. The most enthusiastic reviews, adopting a nostalgic tone, reminisced about Wexford's years as a young policeman, his personal growth, and the earlier period's cultural milieu. But more critics felt mixed about Rendell's retelling of Wexford's life 30 years before; others criticized the forced, distracting subplot featuring the Muslim gir ...more
Rosemary
This is one of the last in Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford detective series and Wexford is looking back over his career to a series of occasional murders which began when he was a constable, before he was married, before Burden joined the force and before his first documented case (From Doon With Death – which is mentioned with a massive spoiler). Now Wexford finally has the chance to get his hands on the killer—if he’s right about who it is.

The story is no more than OK as a mystery, and drags
...more
Anne
Oct 22, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
A tightly written narrative delving into the seemingly not-so-threatening appearance of a serial killer. The story moves from the past to the present seamlessly as Wexford seeks to find a criminal of the past. The criminal? An old man who seems to enjoy nothing more than walking his dog. Not all is what it seems, though.
Jayne Charles
It's always a pleasure to find an Inspector Wexford book I haven't yet read - they have a certain quality you can rely on. This, like some of Rendell's other books, wasn't so much a whodunnit as an already-knowing-whodunnit and just needing to prove it, but this is clear from the start and not a problem. Interwoven with the main storyline was the mystery of a local Muslim girl who has been taken out of school and spirited away to stay with relatives. What could we be looking at here: forced marr ...more
Hol
Dec 21, 2009 Hol added it
I get a hankering to read a Whodunit like this about twice a year, which rather handily is how often Ruth Rendell now writes them. I have wondered if her books would be better developed if she allowed eight or even twelve months for writing them instead (lately she seems to rely a lot on dialogue for exposition), but I suppose the macramé-complex plots are rushing out of her brain too fast. Still an enjoyable read.
Hal
Jul 21, 2014 Hal rated it it was amazing
One of Ruth Rendell's best! I always enjoy her work but sometimes find the endings contrived. This time, the conclusion made perfect sense from the way this splendid author foreshadowed things.

Two things I really like about Rendell's Wexford novels:

1. She lets many of the minor characters occasionally have bigger roles. In this book, for instance, Jenny Burden, the wife of Inspector Wexford's No. 2 man, has a pivotal part to play. I recall another book where Mike Burden, usually the second banan
...more
Hatice
Nov 15, 2015 Hatice rated it really liked it
Müfettiş Wexford ' un emekli olmadan önceki son macerası...Mesleğinin ilk yıllarında karşılaştığı faili meçhul kalmış cinayetleri işlediğinden şüphelendiği, ancak elinde yeterli delili olmadığı için serbest kalan "canavar" ın müfettişte yarattığı acı ve öfke...yıllar sonra " canavar " ın kasabaya dönüşü ile yeni bir cinayetin işlenmesi...katilin ardında bıraktığı küçük parçaları bir araya getirmeye çalışırken acısıyla başa çıkmak için hayali bir kutunun içine koyup kapattığı şüphe ve korkuların ...more
Jody
May 14, 2012 Jody rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery, abandoned, crime
I gave it a shot. I keep hearing that Ruth Rendell is a master of the form, but I'm beginning to have my doubts. I read a novel she wrote as Barbara Vine that I really enjoyed, but the two I've read under her own name have been, well, boring. In all honesty, I didn't even finish this one. It just couldn't keep my interest, despite the rather engaging premise. Oh well.
Jennifer
This is apparently part of the Inspector Wexford series, but it is the first in the series that I have read.

Despite jumping into the middle, I didn't feel lost or confused. I know there is clearly some history between the characters, but I had no problem following everything.

The central mystery focuses on a gentleman whom Wexford has suspected of being a murderer for almost forty years. Yet, there has never been any proof more than Wexford's suspicions.

When he shares these suspicions with his pa
...more
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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.
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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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