J.R.'s Reviews > The Vault

The Vault by Ruth Rendell
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Dec 09, 11

bookshelves: mysteries
Read in December, 2011

I should preface this by admitting I’m a hardcore Rendell fan and will read anything bearing her name (or her alternate nom de plume, Barbara Vine), though I have less liking for her Wexford series than the psychological standalones.

I hurried to pick up a copy of The Vault for two reasons—first because it was a Rendell, second because it had been dubbed a sequel to A Sight For Sore Eyes, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rendell takes us back to the London neighborhood and house of the previous novel, but it isn’t necessary to have read that one to understand this one.

Wexford, now retired and living part-time in the city, is rescued from boredom when a former colleague asks him to advise on a case involving bodies discovered in an underground chamber at Orchadia Cottage. Though he has no legal authority, the former chief inspector is soon doing the bulk of the investigating. In addition to the main mystery, there’s a sub-plot involving Wexford’s daughter Sylvia back home in Kingsmarkham.

There are many good things about this novel—the familiar psychological insight into characters, the excellent portrayal of the setting, the presentation of clues. On the minus side, the novel is marred by an over-dependence on coincidence, some bad editing and (worst of all) a rushed ending that defies belief. Surely an investigator as experienced as Wexford would not go alone and without authority into the den of those he knows to have committed murder.

Despite this, I’m hopeful there will be more (and better) tales involving Wexford and his former colleagues like Mike Burden and Karen Malahyde.
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Linda Rowland I am also a great fan of Rendell (and Vine where she seems to get even darker) but fell in love with Inspector Wexford. I like her Wexford series as much as anything she writes. It is a bit fluffy compared to her other writing but great entertaining stories.
Remains to be seen what I think of this one.


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