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Death Notes Hardcover – August, 1981


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--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books (August 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394520785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394520780
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,258,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Sir Manuel Camargue, yesterday one of the most celebrated musicians of his time, today floats face down in the lake near his sprawling English country house. The consensus is accidental death -- but Inspector Wexford knows the stench of murder most foul when he smells it. Particularly in the company of two suspects -- one, the victim's fiancee, who is too young to be true, the other his daughter who may be no kin and even less kind . . . --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on January 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Inspector Wexford finds that this is one of his most challenging cases. In "Death Notes," he is called to investigate the death of noted musician Sir Manuel Camarque, whose body has been found floating in the lake near his country house. Naturally, everyone wants it ruled "accidental death," but Wexford senses that something, indeed, is not right. Two suspects come immediately to his mind: the aging victim's young fiance and the other his daughter! Both, indeed, have struck discordant tones and the harmony of the of the work is most out of tune! Ruth Rendell, however, doesn't keep the investigation in Kingsmarkham for this one, as California and the south of France also play geographical roles as well. No matter. Rendell is at home whereever her setting and "Death Notes" is well-written and easily captures the reader's attention. Rendell is a master of the police procedural and with her indomitable inspector, this episode in a long running series is right on key! (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although one of the most intriguing Wexford mysteries, DEATH NOTES remains, for the most part, a fairly typical Rendell novel. It has its flaws in some places, but overall it meets the high standards that Rendell, truly a storyteller of the highest order, demands.
The story begins with the seemingly natural death of the great flutist (flautist, rather) Sir Manuel Camargue. When his daughter Natalie arrives to collect her inheritance, suspicion concerning her identity arises, leading Wexford to search for the truth about who she is, trekking through England, France, and California before the questions are finally resolved.
Ultimately, the mystery surrounding Natalie's identity is much more interesting than that of Camargue's death. For the better part of the book, the whole murder plot takes a back seat to the other, more intriguing question. The revelation of Natalie's identity is absolutely ingenious, the type of clever plot twist you'd expect from Agatha Christie. Unfortunately, Rendell doesn't seem to have put her heart into the whodunit aspect of the novel as much.
But other than that, this is a well-constructed mystery, as readable as only Rendell can be. Her prose manages to be simple and conversational, yet also sophisticated and literate. Rendell demonstrates once again her wry, razor-sharp wit in her character descriptions. This may be either intended humor or mere social observation; whatever the case, it makes for a highly entertaining read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I started this book in the afternoon and found, no matter how tired I got, I couldn't put it down. I loved it! I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves mysteries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 28, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ruth Rendell is a consummate writer of both psychological thrillers and detective stories. Frequently, readers who like one genre do not read the other. However, there is some overlap, frequently there are psychological insights in the detective tales and vice versa. All in all this adds to make Rendell books superb readings. This book is no exception.

A renowned flutist is found dead. He either fell into the frozen pond by accident or was pushed. The flutist was about to be married to a young girl who could have been his granddaughter. The flutist has a daughter who he has not seen for nineteen years. She claims the million pound estate. The young woman tells the police inspector Wexford that her fiancée told her that the alleged daughter visited him just before his death and that her fiancée recognized that she was not his daughter and that he told her that he was changing his will to disinherit her and to give his estate to his future wife. He died before he could change the will. Wexford is convinced that the woman is an impostor and spends considerable time and effort to prove it despite his superior telling him to drop the investigation.

Rendell tells the story in a very well written manner filled with suspense and a delightful sense of humor, like a dash of salt that brings out the taste. But nothing is as it seems to be and readers will enjoy finding this out.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By COREY HARDING on September 22, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I USUALLY DON'T FOLLOW EVEN MODERATELY COMPLICATED PLOTS, BUT IN THIS BOOK I SEEM TO HAVE DONE SO. BRAVO FOR HER ABILITY TO COMPLICATE YET SIMPLIFY. THIS IS RARE ANYWHERE. A MODERN MYSTERY THAT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE VERY GOOD. RARE TOO, THAT.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Ho on March 28, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the book that made me a devoted fan of Ruth Rendell, and for that alone it deserves five stars! The story is relatively simple as others have described it--the death of a famous musician brings suspicion onto the man's much younger fiancee, and his long lost daughter.

Yet what made this book stand out was how Rendell handled the simplicity of the plot and still managed to deliver a couple of jaw dropping twists. I really did not know where it was going to end up! (And this was after having read all of Agatha Christie's novels!)

Of all the Wexford titles, this one and "Shake Hands Forever" are the most Christie-like in their brevity and construction. Not a perfect book (as others have pointed out), but the most "fun" I've derived from a Rendell work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on May 27, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Others have done well in describing the plot, but for me, born and raised in California, the most entertaining part of this novel was Inspector Wexford's trip to California which takes up roughly a third of the book. Notable is the very British perception of the west coast including the people, the scenery, and the annoyances such as having to drive on "the wrong side of the road".Okay, the mystery itself is up to Rendell's usual standards, pretty typical for her fans, but I do think Californians like myself will especially enjoy it.
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