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The Monster in the Box (Inspector Wexford #22)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,603 ratings  ·  250 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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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
Kasey Jueds
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
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
Carol Rogers
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
Hilary G
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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?'
Oct 06, 2009 Philip rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Felisa Rosa
Rendell sets up a wonderfully creepy antagonist and a promising premise: Chief Inspector Wexford has a career-long nemesis! But the subplot about his subordinate officer's obsession with a Muslim family is weird and kind of annoying. The officer, Hannah Armstrong, is constantly visiting the family to question them about their teenage daughter. Armstrong is worried that the family is trying to force the girl into an arranged marriage. She has absolutely no proof of this, but continues to harass t ...more
Disappointing new Wexford. Ruth Rendell is usually much better than this but this seemed like a weak, limp, used-the-teabag-too-many-times addition to the Wexford novels. This novel looks back to Wexford's start as a policeman, with lots of repetition of "back in those days..." which just got on my nerves. If you've never read Wexford, don't start with this one!
An old case from Wexford's past comes up; lots of reminiscing about his early career and how he met his wife, etc. It was a real page turner but I was reading it on vacation in Hawaii and kept getting pulled away to watch a sunset or go out to eat. The ending was a tiny bit of a letdown but it was pretty good.
Alison C
Everything Ruth Rendell writes is magical, and her latest, The Monster in the Box, is no exception. We're back with Chief Detective Inspector Wexford again, but this time he's reminded of the deep past, back when he was a young police officer and a young woman was strangled in her own home. Wexford became convinced then, and remains convinced now, that a particular man was responsible, but he had no proof. Over the years, he lays several other murders at this man's door, but again can never prov ...more
Anita Dalton
Perhaps one day I will have the time to go into depth about all the Ruth Rendell books I have read, but alas, this is not that day. Just know that a four-star rating on a Rendell book means is far better than 99% of the mysteries out there. Definitely worth your time.
Rog Harrison
It must be over fifteen years since I read any of this series but I saw this in the library so thought I would give it a go. This was published in 2009 and Wexford is nearing the end of his career and spend much of this slow moving book thinking of his past - his early girl friends and how he met his wife. The story is that when a young policeman he had suspected someone was a murderer and over the years he comes across the man he suspects on several occasions. Is the man a murderer or is it jus ...more
This is a tale of obsession, just the kind of tale that Rendall tells so well. Twenty or so years ago I read a lot of Ruth Rendall, though I can't remember which specific titles. Then the darker side of her stories deterred me for many years from reading her. At long last, however, I thought I'd give her another chance, and I'm glad that I did. The monster in the box, as we quickly learn, is Targo, a killer who hates people, but loves animal. Targo haunts Wexford for many years, as Wexford expla ...more
scherzo♫ -- "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't"
Poor plotting, silly motive, too much police harassment of a Muslim family; no feeling of justice or of anyone doing anything needful.
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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.
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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)
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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