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The Monster in the Box (Inspector Wexford #22)

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  2,135 Ratings  ·  315 Reviews
The Monster in the Box is the latest addition to Ruth Rendell’s “masterful” (Los Angeles Times) Inspector Wexford series.

In this enthralling new book, Rendell, “the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world” (Time), takes Inspector Wexford back to his first murder case—a woman found strangled in her bedroom. Outside the crime scene, Wexford noticed a short, muscula
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Scribner (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
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

Nigel Anthony 8 Hours 52 Mins

Description: 'He had never told anyone. The strange relationship, if it could be called that, had gone on for years, decades, and he had never breathed a word about it. He had kept silent because he knew no one would believe him. None of it could be proved, not the stalking, not the stares or the conspiratorial smiles, not the killings, not any of the signs Targo had made because he knew Wexford knew and could do nothing about it.'
Wexford had almost made up his min
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Hilary G
Feb 26, 2013 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
Carol Rogers
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Christina McLain
As a writer, Ruth Rendell has always been hit or miss for me. I thought that at least two of her earlier novels, A Judgment in Stone and A Dark-Adapted Eye, were brilliant. But some of her later books, especially the ones focusing on really disturbing people and situations like Portobello left me cold. But I always liked her Wexford series, especially since Wexford is refreshingly free of the eccentricities or painful conundrums which infect the lives of other fictional crime-solvers like Rebus ...more
Dec 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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?'
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Candy Wood
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
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Nov 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-mystery
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!
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, read-in-2012
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.
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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)
  • 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)