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From Doon With Death

(Inspector Wexford #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  9,088 ratings  ·  638 reviews
Dazzling psychological suspense. Razor-sharp dialogue. Plots that catch and hold like a noose. These are the hallmarks of crime legend Ruth Rendell. 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 of the twentieth century.

There is nothing extraordinary about Margaret P
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  9,088 ratings  ·  638 reviews

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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
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
Dec 01, 2016 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
Aug 26, 2013 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
An Excellent Mystery!

This is the first book in a series. Ruth Rendell introduces us to Detective Wexford. How British!
May 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It must have taken fifteen years to obtain the series volume I needed and get started. I want to enjoy a lauded authoress and have the jury out for Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine. However, it is not the names that I grade. “From Doon With Death”, 1964, was dry. I hear her solo stories and other Reginald Wexford / Mike Burden cases are better; a good thing, because I own nearly them all, courtesy of bargain bins! Higher marks for higher enjoyment will mean something.

I initially gave three stars, for
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
Azita Rassi
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Predictable and charmless. This was my first Ruth Rendell and I started it with high expectations but was quite disappointed. The prose and epigraphs were good, which is why I’m giving this book a second star.
From what I can tell, this is not only the first book in Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series, but also her first published novel.

Although it lacks the polish of later volumes in the series, and Wexford especially hasn't yet assumed final form, it is a very capable first outing. The time and place and characters are generally well drawn, and the plot engaging (even though the outcome was obvious to me fairly early on).

It will be interesting to see Rendell's style develop as I continue with
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
Susan Johnson
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a reread for me in preparation for our first Ruth Rendell buddy read in the English Mysteries book club starting May 1. Please come join us for the discussion.

As a beginning book, it was of course not as good as some of the subsequent ones. Still I was delighted reading it again 40 years later. Rendell says she modeled Wexford after her father and I realized that maybe that is why this series appeals to me so much. He reminds me of my dad. My dad was a big man, quiet and in authority (
Lewis Weinstein
May 31, 2015 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.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ruth-rendell
The first of the Inspector Wexford series with the faithful sidekick Burden. A good read and a story written in 1964 that was out there in its plot. The town of Kingsmarkham (Midhurst in Sussex) has a murder of a seemingly ordinary person. The crux of the story is who is Doon?

A housewife is reported missing to Inspector Burden by her husband who comes home from work and she is not there. Margaret Parson the missing woman on the service had an uneventful like. A few days later her body is discov
May 07, 2011 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 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Bill by: Currently Reading Podcast
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I've been listening to the Currently Reading podcast quite a bit these days.
One of the hosts, Meredith, is a huge Louise Penny fan, as I was for the first eight novels of her series. I hit my limit after nine, but this is the longest I have ever kept with a series. When I was into it, it was so great coming back to Three Pines.
In one of these podcasts, Meredith had recommended the Inspector Wexford series to Louise Penny fans. Same type of deal; a small village and developing characters througho
May 06, 2020 rated it liked it
"From Doon With Death" is the 1st novel in a series featuring Chief Inspector Wexford and Detective Inspector Mike Burden in the imaginary market town of Kingsmarkham in the district of Sussex (UK). Although a fairly short novel, it is filled with intrigue as Wexford and Burden investigate the murder of a seemingly friendless, quiet wife named Margaret Parsons. As the woman's past is investigated the husband is either oblivious or may be among the numerous suspects.

As one reads the novel it's i
Nov 04, 2015 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
David R. Dowdy
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a story published in 1964 it must have been quite shocking to readers. The characters in FDWD certainly weren’t immune to the effects of the conclusion.

I’ve read Ruth Rendell’s Chief Inspector Reg Wexford before and it had been too long. There’s something about his detached and unemotional demeanor that’s a pleasure to read. Not that I appreciate detectives only like him. I simply find him amusing. He’s none too easily disturbed. In the manner of a benevolent cat that astonishingly gives the
Feb 15, 2017 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,
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
Corey Levitt
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at the Book Thing and it was very good. I believe that Ruth Rendell is British as this book is set in England. Every now and then I had to re-read a few sentences to try and understand the British words. Other than that, it was a very quick read as it is only 200 some pages. It took me about 4 days to read. If you know me, you know that it's amazing I read a book in 4 days. It is a great murder mystery.
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
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglophilia
I have finally given myself the gift of Ruth Rendell's classic Rexford mysteries, because I got the 1st one for a good price on Audible, read by Terrence Hardiman. Add him to my list of preferred readers, pleasantly British, expressive, with good variation between different characters.

The mystery itself was a bit obvious, but it was fun watching the detectives reach the conclusion that Rendell blatantly gave to the reader pretty early on. Her use of red herrings was more like being slapped in t
May 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
I am a big fan of Ruth Rendell and have read and enjoyed many of her books, both stand alones and the Wexford series. This was the first in the Wexford series, and if it had been the first Rendell book I read, I would not have read another. I found it extremely tedious and dull. There were various phrases and words that left me baffled, perhaps due to the time period which was the 1950s. I was not able to discover the killer and the surprise ending left me totally unsatisfied. Ruth Rendell was a ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, top-author
A very enjoyable cosy mystery - the first in the Inspector Wexford series
Oct 31, 2016 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.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, library
This early entry in the Inspector Wexford mystery series shows the author developing her characters and demonstrating the psychological insights into crime that she would later perfect.
Dame Agatha Christie and Her Peers
CAST – 2 stars: A BLATANTLY GAY salesman knows his lipstick sales! Chief Inspector Wexford is introduced to the world: he is 52 and thick but not fat. He seems bland here: I’m sure there will be more information about him and his past in future works in this series. Inspector Burden seemed, well, there to play opposite the more thoughtful, far smarter, Wexford. Mr. Ronald Parsons feels flat/sad/something. Mrs. Margaret Parsons has a BIG SECRE
Bam cooks the books ;-)
When I learned that Ruth Rendell had passed away recently, I was reminded that I have been wanting to give her mysteries a try for some time and immediately requested this book, the first featuring Inspector Wexford, and her first stand-alone mystery, To Fear a Painted Devil, from the library. Both were first published in the 60s and seem a bit dated, especially the moral issue at the heart of this story, which probably seemed terribly shocking in 1964 but not so much fifty years later.

This was
Oct 14, 2013 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
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add new edition 2 8 Oct 06, 2019 04:45AM  
Crime, Mysteries ...: From Doon with Death - November 2015 23 80 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.

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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