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Not in the Flesh

(Inspector Wexford #21)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,052 ratings  ·  305 reviews
A new Chief Inspector Wexford mystery from the author who Time magazine has called “the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world.”

When the truffle-hunting dog starts to dig furiously, his master’s first reaction is delight at the size of the clump the dog has unearthed: at the going rate, this one truffle might be worth several hundred pounds. Then the dirt falls
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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In this 21st book in the 'Inspector Wexford' series, the detective investigates two old murders that have just come to light. The book can be read as a standalone.


A long-buried body is unearthed in Flagford, England - on the property of grouchy John Grimble - and Chief Inspector Wexford and his team investigate. The detectives learn that Grimble dug a trench eleven years before to prepare the property for additional homes. Denied permission to build the houses an incensed Grimble filled in
This was a perfectly pleasant read but not especially exciting. Inspector Wexford is always such a calm person and everything proceeds at such an even pace. In this particular book even the deaths are historical and therefore not dangerous or threatening. Some police work and a lot of coincidences bring the cases to a successful close although there is a bit of a red herring towards the end which made this reader think she had guessed the wrong answer only to find out later it was actually ...more
This book was dire. The main problem is not the basic plot, although I found that a bit confused, it's the "issues" the book goes on about in a stupid and sometimes offensive way.

"His taste ran to the colours which suited black skin, those which perhaps only a black man could successfully wear: red, orange, yellow, bright green. Black was a no-no." Funny, I'm sure I've seen more black people wearing black clothes than bright green. I've also seen plenty of non-black people wearing those colours
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one was great!

I listened to this on CD, narrated by Simon Vance. First of all, the narration was 'spot on,' and the complexity and variety of voices, accents, inflections, all of it, were superb. I will look for more books, especially by Rendell, which are narrated by Mr. Vance.

The story...

Two bodies are found in a wooded area owned by a man, Grimble, who has inherited the land and wants to build four houses on it. He even started a drainage ditch before he gets approval to build. However,
Kasey Jueds
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
My life has become so much better since I accepted Ruth Rendell as my personal savior.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, audio-book
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 ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading a book starring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford (this is the 21st in the series) is like a long visit with an old friend. Like the rest of us, Wexford is aging and the process has turned him into a grumpy older man. He is forever frustrating his adult daughter and his wife, he hates anything to do with computers and the internet, and thinks that the world has become overfamiliar. In this latest adventure, a truffle sniffing dog (who is trespassing with his master) finds a dead body ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ruth-rendell
Another enjoyable Wexford mystery. A man and his dog out truffle hunting find a body. Wexford investigates who is the mysterious skeleton and how they were murdered. Then another body is found. Most of the plot is finding out the identities of the bodies.

A famous dying novelist called Tredown house overlooks the derelict bungalow and field where the bodies were found. Wexford asks him and his two wives he lived with if they saw anything. One of the woman Claudia is his ex-wife and Maeve his
Judith Teggelaar
Another "hard to put down" book by master mystery writer, Ruth Rendall. This one centers around a cold case from 11 years before. Enter Inspector Wexford and the fun begins.
Jackie Jameson
I SELDOM (spoken in an British accent) don't finish any book I've started to read. But "this here one I did." (Alabama)
I read and liked the novel "13 Steps Down". I was quite prepared to enjoy this one too. I figured out "who done it" fairly early on. If there was a big ole' kaboomer of an ending, I missed it and didn't care. No likeable characters, NO one to root for. If justice was served, they pronounced it with a yawn. Love her writing..trying again with "Adam And Eve And Pinch Me". Horrible
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, series
Rather funnier in odd ways than some of her other books.
The storyline was a bit messy. I found one of the subplots a bit of a forced distraction. The main story depended upon so many coincidences as to be completely improbable. And I kept wondering why Inspector Wexford wasn't doing some things that seemed very obviously called for.
But some fascinating (if unlikeable) characters, and Rendell's usual fine writing.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a Really Terrible Book. It got slightly better along the way - probably because I got used to the casual sexism, racism, and latent homophobia - but it was never good and I'd highly recommend everyone to avoid this book if at all possible.
Clare Snow
Have these people not heard of ghost writing? Or racism? Someone needs to run down Burden.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kate
An ok, easy read. I struggled to read it in the early part of the book but then it picked up towards the end. Definitely NOT one of her better ones!!
Ann Grebner
I read this book for a book discussion group but did not enjoy it at all. What should have taken me 2 days took 2 weeks. I found there were too many characters and the different time frames confused me. The 'social' issue as a back story was so unnecessary to the mystery, in my opinion. I did not care for this book at all.
This book doesn't necessarily deserves 2 stars, but my experience with it wasn't great, it wasn't even average, and I don't know if that's my fault or the author's. I couldn't get into it (there was no urgency or feeling of danger to keep me interested with victims from a decade ago), I couldn't keep track of all the people (which isn't a problem I usually have even in audiobooks), I felt little to no connection to any of the characters, and the murders and side-plot of female circumcision ...more
Jayne Charles
It's a long time since my last rendezvous with Wexford and his chums, and I have missed some of his more recent outings. It's interesting to note the way he reacts to changes in the world around him over the years. Now he's forced to drink wine the poor love, and all his staff have taken to calling him 'Guv' because that's what happens on 'The Bill'. Rather less blood and gore than your average murder mystery, though the (slightly incongruous) subplot involving the Somali family is calculated to ...more
It was a little jarring to go right from Dickens to Ruth Rendell, because her mysteries are kind of the opposite of a Victorian picaresque, but I did enjoy this one once I acclimated to the velocity of it and got focused on keeping track of the details, e.g.: Which one is Vivian and which one is Vera? What’s the inscription in Hexham’s ring again? There really is no one better than Rendell when it comes to casting out and then tying up a million loose ends. Speaking of velocity, however, this ...more
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

It’s difficult to review a mystery without giving too much away. In this case, all I need to say is that Ruth Rendell has written her typically good Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. The characters are familiar, they’re older, but they act as they always have.

A relatively new character, Detective Sergeant Hannah Goldsmith, makes an interesting foil for Wexford’s reflections on age and a changing society.

A familiar character, Inspector Mike Burden, “...had at last, regretfully, discarded his
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inspector Wexford fans
This is a strange one. The central mystery seems like a plot Rendell drafted back in 1975 and stuck in a drawer because it wasn't working out convincingly...then pulled out last year and tried to update the details and graft on a modern subplot.

The resolution of the mystery turns on at least one COMPLETELY implausible coincidence.
The depiction of the village and its residents seems very very dated.

Even the best-selling novel that's at the heart of the mystery seems like something that would
Bea Alden
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all women
Shelves: mystery
Another of Ruth Rendell's tours de force - a magnificent murder mystery with a complicated plot, driven by sinister psychological motivations, told in a day to day narrative that puzzles the reader while seeming to bring it all down to earth.

However, it's the the sub-theme of female genital mutilation that makes this Rendell mystery particularly important. The Queen has honored Ruth Rendell for her lifetime of fine writing, making her a Life Peer and member of the House of Lords, with the title
Mar 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have never read a Ruth Rendell novel before, and I don't believe I will again. I picked this up at an outdoor library because the summary on the back seemed interesting.
From page 1, this book was very hard to get through, and I had to put it down more and more often as the story went on. The only reason I continued to read it is that I do not like to leave a story unfinished. It reads like someone's prejudiced granny trying to tell a story, but they keep getting side tracked or going on rants.
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book probably deserves more than two stars but less than three, maybe two and a half. I did like it, but it did not have the compelling quality of Kate Atkinson's mysteries. About halfway through the book, the reader still didn't know anything (nor did the characters for that matter). It was frustrating--I think clues in a murder mystery are better scattered throughout the book to keep the reader interested rather than just bewildered or slightly bored. And the tangential storyline about ...more
I only started reading Ruth Rendell maybe 2 or 3 years ago but her psychological thrillers are now a firm favourite of mine. This book is my introduction to Inspector...sorry Chief Inspector.. Wexford -I've not even seen the TV series. I'm sad to say I didn't like it. I found it an average crime thriller, nothing wrong with it but I guess I expected more. It just didn't grip me in the way that her psychological thrillers have done. Plus I didn't feel that the side story of female circumcision ...more
Bah Humpug
I debated between two stars or one star, but I did not feel like this was an "ok" book. I just did not like it. The mystery was so boring and obvious, and the subplots were completely unrelated and took up a good chunk of the book. It seemed like a way to squeeze in a random issue the author wanted to discuss. There were also some parts that made me feel a bit uneasy, though I'm sure the detectives in the book would just say I was being overly PC as they often do with others. This was my first ...more
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, listened-to
I enjoyed listening to Simon Vance read this book to me as as I rode back from visiting my new grandson in Boise. His voices for each character brought out their personalities and helped me keep track of who was who. In a change from the usual formula of murder mysteries, no one is killed in the present day. Bodies are found that have decayed to the extent that they are difficult to identify which helps make this a believable police procedural.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointed!

I've read several books by Rendell and enjoyed every one of them. As I was reading this book, I kept asking myself if this was really written by her. It was too wordy and going nowhere. Not wanting to waste more time, I dropped it after less than 1/4 way through.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-mystery
Another solid effort from Ruth Rendell in her Wexford series. The story line about Somali women and female genital mutilation, while interesting, seemed a bit "tacked on" to the story and had nothing to do with the actual case. Other than that, I enjoyed this book very much.
Well OK... That was, um, interesting. A mystery that tried to incorporate murder, plagiarism, a truffle-hunting dog, and female circumcision in Somalia - sadly not all that well. At least it's the first I've read that tried to do this...
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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)
  • 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)
“As in most cases when the truth becomes clear you wonder how you could ever have seen things differently.” 0 likes
“tell them all this? Wexford had no idea. Because” 0 likes
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