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From Doon With Death (Inspector Wexford #1)

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  6,499 Ratings  ·  441 Reviews
Dazzling psychological suspense. Razor-sharp dialogue. Plots that catch and hold like a noose. These are the hallmarks of crime legend Ruth Rendell, “the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world” (Time magazine). From Doon with Death, now in a striking new paperback edition, is her classic debut novel -- and the book that introduced one of the most popular sleuths ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 1964)
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Read by................ Terence Hardiman
Total Runtime......... 5 Hours 28 Mins

Description: Margaret Parsons is dead. She appeared to lead a very dull life. She had been a "good" woman. Religious, old-fashioned, and respectable, her life had been as spotless and ordinary as her home, as unexciting and dependable as her marriage. However, it was not because of her life that Chief Inspector Wexford became involved, but her death. How is it possible that a woman who had led such a quiet, respectable
Dec 01, 2016 Gary rated it liked it
This is the 1st book in the Inspector Wexford series by author Ruth Rendell. A good read that is written in an old fashioned style that introduces the main characters and sets up the series.
In this opening mystery Inspector Wexford investigates the disappearance of Margaret Parsons, a housewife who goes missing and is later found dead in the nearby woods. Margaret Parsons appears to have no enemies and seems to live a quiet life with very little excitement. So the mystery is who has killed her a
Nancy Oakes
Update, May 6, 2015: I am undertaking a Ruth Rendell "key" works project -- the books The Guardian recently noted as such the day of Ruth Rendell's death. From Doon With Death is the first of these . I've just reread this novel again after six years, and while I wouldn't change my rating, I will say that it was definitely a pleasure to have taken it up again. This time through I've noticed much more than I did the first time -- back then I think I was looking much more for plot and storyline, wh ...more
Susan Albert
My reread of the first of the Wexford series was different than my first time through the book. Back then, in the early 1990s, I was a novice mystery writer eager to learn from a master. Now, I've written quite a few mysteries myself and I know what to look for. I read, now, for deeper glimpses into Rendell's craft, and I'm not disappointed. There's an art to writing a police procedural that is also a village mystery, and Rendell is the consummate artist. Her characters--even the good-guy cops-- ...more
Aug 26, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1964, this is the first Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. For some reason I had never read the Wexford novels before and it is a good beginning to the series. The story begins when Inspector Mike Burdon is alerted by a neighbour that his wife is missing. Ronald Parsons almost prides himself on his dull and respectable life. He claims it is totally out of character for his wife, Margaret, to disappear without word. Burdon tends to agree and contacts the police station. When Marg ...more
From IMBd:
Margaret Parsons, a fairly ordinary housewife who, with her water board official husband Ron, has recently moved to Kingsmarkham, is found murdered in a field. Mrs. Parsons led an extremely uneventful life, being a lay preacher, but Inspector Wexford is intrigued when he is looking through her belongings and fine a number of expensive antique books all inscribed 'From Doon to Minna'.Who is Doon?

4* Going Wrong
4* The Keys to the Street
3* The Fever Tree and Other Stories
4* A Judgement in
Scott K
I wished I could say I like it but truth is it was a boring read. Being one who always gives everything more then one try, I imagine I'll read another of Rendell's books but will not be in a hurry to do so.

I could never really get into any of the characters especially Inspector Wexford. The ending was good but all the events leading to it never reached a level of suspense where it was hard to put down. In fact it was quite easy to put down and almost became a chore to finish. A short book of onl
Lewis Weinstein
May 31, 2015 Lewis Weinstein rated it really liked it
This is the first book by Ruth Rendell I've read (I know, shame on me). I was about 2/3 through, thinking it was well written, interesting, but not yet sensing it was truly special. My feeling, however, was that I should wait to see how she resolved it before reaching a conclusion. WOW! I have become a fan.
Mar 03, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: top-author, audio
A very enjoyable cosy mystery - the first in the Inspector Wexford series
Feb 15, 2017 Linda rated it liked it
3.5 stars
I hadn't read a Ruth Rendell in many years, though I remembered that I liked what I had read.

This book was published in 1964, the year I was born. (Which is why I read it now, to fulfill a book bingo square :)

For the most part, I thought this mystery was rather ordinary. A man reports his wife missing, and the police don't take him very seriously because she's only been missing a few hours. The husband describes their banal marriage and life, full of routine and absent of extravagances,
Nov 04, 2015 Bandit rated it really liked it
I dislike detective series, I find it to be lazy writing more often than not and generally stay away from them. However, no one would accuse a career as prolific as Rendell's as lazy and there is something very appealing about her work. I think this book was a terrific example of it. Seemingly a classic British murder mystery, much like Christie, whom Rendell apparently disliked and strived to get away from comparisons to, and yet in retrospect very different. Rendell's England is less than quai ...more
May 07, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it
I am a fan of classis murder mysteries yet was not familiar with Ruth Rendell's writing (nor have I seen Inspector Wexford on television). It seemed like it was time to get acquainted.

Since this was the initial novel featuring Inspector Wexford, I suspect that as her series expanded, her detective grew more interesting to readers. I generally feel that when I've read three or more books featuring one character I enjoy each successive book a little bit more. That is an unnecessarily complicated w
Mar 29, 2014 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: serial-mystery, 2014
If you love classic and timeless British mysteries, you'll love the first one in the Wexford series by Ruth Rendell. In From Doon With Death, it's up to Inspector Wexford and Detective Burden to discover who killed Margaret Parsons. They dissected and examined every piece of her life that went back to her childhood. The closer they get to the truth, the more puzzling it appears to them on who's lying and who's telling the truth. It all stemmed from that ancient book collection and the inscriptio ...more
Oct 31, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
I will definitely read more of the series. This one wasn't marvelous but I could see a lot of potential for her to develop the inspector into a great character.
Gabi Coatsworth
Apr 23, 2017 Gabi Coatsworth rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, british
Dated, but fascinating

This book was published in 1964, and is well worth reading for those who like crime fiction, and for people interested in seeing how social mores and attitudes have changed since then. Characters are stereotyped very often, housewives must all be polishing their front doorsteps on their knees, the police force is all male, Inspector Wexford walks to work. It's a different world, but the novelist's eye isn't judgmental. Not a great novel, but a very promising debut in its t
Mar 15, 2017 Bevan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Rendell's first Wexford novel bursts on the scene fully formed. The language is beautiful, and the form of the police procedural (an archetypical example of the Morse/Barnaby generation) fully realised from the beginning. The debt to Christie is clear - the setting of the village with it's archetypical 'types' and class divisions. What I really savoured was the eye for detail and simply beautiful language. The performance on Audible by Terrace Hardiman is superb.
Alexander Inglis
This year Chief Inspector Reg Wexford celebrated his 23rd novel (The Vault), if one may put it that way for a fictional character; and he was "born" in Ruth Rendell's 1964 published From Doon With Death. It was also, more remarkably, Rendell's first novel which emerged full shaped, well plotted, with believable (and memorable) characters.

Margaret Parsons is the rather non-descript wife of a rather non-descript employee of a small English town hardware store who is barely able to make ends meet.
I've seen other reviews that say From Doon With Death is the least of Ruth Rendell's books. That's the good thing, because it's an unfair book. It hides information from the reader, and this information is vital to the solution of the case. It is not a case of intuition, it is the answer to the mystery in so many words, in a conversation between the detective and another party, to which the reader is not privy to. And yet, it is fairly easy to guess who the murderer is (although, it probably was ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
FROM DOON WITH DEATH. (1964). Ruth Rendell. ****.
This is a must read book – if only because it was the first Chief Inspector Wexford novel written by Ms. Rendell. It is a little weak in plot, and, typical of first novels, full of too many characters, but the underlying talent of the author is apparent. It addresses a principal social concern in addition to telling a complex story of murder and passion. Rendell’s books – at least those involving Inspector Wexford – always manage to revolve aroun
Shom Biswas
Dec 30, 2015 Shom Biswas rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
Ruth Rendell was a master of the detective fiction genre, and I am familiar with her work, as I am with Chief Inspector Wexford, the main protagonist of many of her books. This, the first in the series, I had not read earlier.
And I am glad to have done so now. An expert police procedural, this is a must-read for fans of the sub-genre. I am fond of these village-green police procedurals as I call them - they have in them both the comfort of the cozies, and the rootedness of the hardboiled (altho
Oct 14, 2013 Cathy rated it really liked it
I had never read Ruth Rendell and had only vaguely heard of her when Scott Throw, in an interview, said she was the one mystery writer he always read. I love British mysteries, they're so civilized. Rarely are people shot, they are usually killed quite discreetly, the detectives go around asking polite questions over tea, nothing blows up and at the end they sit down and explain it all clearly in case you dozed through an important clue. This is Rendell's first mystery, written in the '60s, and ...more
Mike Gabor
Jan 19, 2012 Mike Gabor rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-mystery
Margaret Parsons is a quiet young English housewife. She is found strangled to death in the woods one day and Inspector Wexford is looking into the case. Margaret and her husband lived a very quiet life and really had no friends to speak of. There aren't many clues until Wexford discovers some books in the attic of the Parson's home that are inscriped to Margaret by someone named Doon. Wexford then starts investigating Margaret's past hoping it will lead tom her killer.

This is the first Inspecto
Apr 14, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read one other Inspector Wexford mystery but this is the first in the series. I enjoyed the style and the characters; Wexford can be a grumpy, frustrated inspector at times, but also sympathetic as the case needs. The story isn't a cozy mystery, but also not graphically violent. Basically it involves a missing wife and the later discovery of her body and the follow-on investigation. But the story is crafted very well and a enjoyable to read, flowing nicely from situation to situation. I w ...more
Mary Manuel
May 07, 2014 Mary Manuel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
I love the books I have read under her other pen name Barbara Vine, but I have read all of her Inspector Wexford books because I enjoy his character and wisdom and following his interesting family life. This was just the beginning of a delightful series, I just began the most recent one and 24th Wexford, "No Man's a Nightengale" I would recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a great British mystery.
My first inspector Wexford, and what a marvel!
The intrigue is perfect, the suspense dense and the options so numerous it was nearly impossible to get a clue till the very last pages!
Now, I want to read all the series!
Alyson Dickerman
May 27, 2015 Alyson Dickerman rated it it was amazing
Psychological mystery that really hums with realism. I always wondered why Rendell was so revered by other authors, and now I know. Brilliant and vibrant plot and characters coexist with a very unsettling acknowledgment that Rendell is writing much more about life than she is about death.
Jun 02, 2015 Jamie rated it it was ok
While the mystery here was interesting enough to keep me reading until the end, the characters--especially the inspectors--felt kind of flat to me. I'll be looking elsewhere for more mystery!
Jun 18, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Rendell's first Inspector Wexford book has aged into something a little more predictable, but its blend of murder and the mundane still makes this an enticing debut. Maybe "mundane" seems like a strange word to use to sing a book's praises, but Rendell's low-key and even cool approach is part of her charm. The reluctance or even refusal to become flustered defines this book, and it especially defines Mike Burden, whom I liked even more than I liked Wexford. He begins the novel mildly irritated t ...more
Karl Marx S.T.
Mar 12, 2012 Karl Marx S.T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: ruth-rendell
From Doon with Death is the first Rendell novel to feature the ever compassionate Chief Inspector Wexford. It is about the murder of Margaret Parsons, a prim and proper house-wife which most likely the type that can’t surprise anyone with her looks and is without a doubt a woman of manners. So when her husband finds their home empty one evening, he starts to panics for never in his life had Margaret leaves his sight when he gets home. With the help of Inspector Wexford, Margaret is found in a ne ...more
Feb 17, 2017 Dave rated it it was ok
Lukewarm. This is the first Wexford novel and Rendell seems to be just finding her footing. The mood is there but the plot and characters not fully fleshed out. Still readable, but disappointing, especially in terms of plot. Oh, and what a horrible title.

As a sidenote, this edition has a terrific afterword from Daniel Mallory that highlights the good of Rendell and acknowledges the less so in this book. He also points out how much Rendell was reacting against Agatha Christie. Certainly, this vil
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Mysteries & Crime...: BOM Nov - From doon with death 24 74 Dec 14, 2015 07:26AM  
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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)
  • 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)
  • Death Notes (Inspector Wexford, #11)

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