Sophie's Reviews > Not In The Flesh

Not In The Flesh by Ruth Rendell
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's review
Sep 21, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011-books, audio-book
Read from August 31 to September 21, 2011

Ruth Rendell is a very good writer. She creates three-dimensional characters, brings her settings and scenarios to life, and pulls the reader into her stories. Unfortunately, though, Not in the Flesh is not a very intriguing mystery. There were too many disparate story lines, too many giant coincidences, too much time between the murder and the discovery of the body (eleven years) for witness recollections to be believable. (Who remembers seeing a stranger wearing a particular T-shirt after eleven years?) The coincidences the author relies on--a book about a missing man just happens to be excerpted in the paper right after the body is discovered, the detective's daughter just happens to be starring in a movie based on a book that figures in the murder plot--to help the police unravel the mystery are hard to believe, which doesn't really make for an involving plot. The author also tries a red herring that does not work at all. The police pursue a particular solution to the mystery--which the reader is apparently also supposed to believe--but it is quite obvious what the real solution is. So when the story line pivots to the true solution, the only surprise is that it took so long for the police to figure it out. A good deal of the book is taken up with the problem of Somali immigrants in England continuing their abhorrent practice of genital mutilation, and the police efforts to stop it. I appreciate the author bringing attention to it, but in her efforts to show how counterproductive political correctness is in the face of this practice, she makes the female police officers in the story ridiculous. Overall, I would probably give the story 2.5 stars if I could because even though I didn't like the plot, the quality of the writing is impeccable.
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Reading Progress

09/01/2011 page 10
80.0% "Interesting how the author juxtaposes the characters' useless concern with political correctness in the face of the horror of genital mutilation."
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