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No Man's Nightingale: An Inspector Wexford Novel Hardcover – November 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Rendell's absorbing 24th Inspector Wexford novel (after 2011's The Vault), the Kingsmarkham, England, sleuth tries to find out who strangled the Rev. Sarah Hussain in the vicarage of St. Peter's Church, and why. The fact that Hussain was biracial and a single mother had galvanized bigots near and far, who resented her very existence as well as her modernizing the liturgy. When Wexford's grandson, Robin, begins dating Sarah's daughter, Clarissa, Robin gets entangled in identifying Clarissa's sperm-donor father—further upping the ante for Wexford. Is a white power group responsible for killing Sarah, or had a personal relationship curdled into fury? Suspects abound: the shiftless depressive Jeremy Legg; the Anglican traditionalist Dennis Cuthbert; and Gerald Watson, a stuffy old flame of the murdered woman. Wexford's strengths as a man and as a detective are his calmness and resilience. A serene atheist, he looks to the conscience of humanity and Britain's flawed but well-intended laws to glean whatever justice can exist today. Agent: Peter Matson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.)

From Booklist

Firmly established in his retirement, former Chief Inspector Wexford is so thoroughly enjoying reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that passages from it stud this narrative. Still, he leaps at the invitation, from his successor and former partner, Michael Burden, to visit the vicarage where the Reverend Sarah Hussein was strangled to death. Treading carefully in joining the murder investigation, the intuitive Wexford is most interested in the past of the late vicar, whose daughter, Clarissa, was born years after her mother was widowed. That Clarissa was to be told the circumstances of her birth when she turned 18, just a few months hence, adds to the intrigue. Wexford’s talkative cleaning woman, Maxine Sams, and her family also figure in the case, which is pursued rather languidly to its conclusion. In her twenty-fourth Wexford mystery, Rendell continues to raise social issues—sexism, racism, the modernization of the Church of England—but the series, like its protagonist, may be slowing down a bit with age. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Although this isn’t among the best in the long-running and much-adored Inspector Wexford series, it remains must reading for Rendell’s many well-earned fans. --Michele Leber

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Wexford
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476744483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476744483
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Sarah S on August 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I girded my loins to give this title a less than stellar review, thinking that i would be a lone voice, but it seems that several of us long-time fans have been sorely disappointed by this latest effort. Isn't it a shame? I have to agree that the occasional pop culture references are utterly jarring; that the emphasis on race is distasteful and pretty unconvincing as a plot basis; that Reg Wexford, once an uncompromising, roaring, secretly literate and liberal copper is reduced to a hesitant, bumbling shadow of himself....

I made peace long ago with the realisation that it was hard to like most of Rendell's characters, but this half-hearted portrayal of a much loved and respected collossus of crime fiction feels like a betrayal. The Kingsmarkham social landscape has been reduced to a bizarre amalgam of Albert Square in full tabloid- hysteria mode and Surbiton in the 1960's. Sadly, I think Ms Rendell and I have reached a parting of the ways, but I'll remember the good times.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mara Kurtz on January 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've loved Ruth Rendell for years and read all of her books with pleasure, but I really has to struggle to finish this one.
I read it in just two days but could not remember who the characters were. I kept going back to check names and even then I was confused.
The description of London neighborhoods was interesting, but I can read a travel book for that.
Many twists in the plot did not make sense as unresolved hints continued to mount.
I still don't understand the red and blue striped tie mentioned in four different places. That never went anywhere and seemed like a mistake. Editing needed!
By the last twenty pages I simply didn't care. The book gave me a headache.
Even the closing sentence was irrelevant. Skip it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By The Blue Lizard on February 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because Ruth Rendell has been my favorite crime writer for thirty-five years or so and I think she has written many brilliant novels. I am am glad she is still writing and I will always buy her books.

Given that, I must say this current Wexford is not good. Also of the three series of books Rendell writes: Ruth Rendell, Barbara Vine and the Inspector Wexford series, the Wexfords are my least favorites. I realize that other readers enjoy them the most. I have always found them slow and Wexford and his family have never come alive for me and his friendly/adversarial relationship with his conservative Burden was understood in the first Wexford and their differences do not bear constant repeating and explaining as it is slows whatever mystery is on its way to being solved. Also I don't think Ms. Rendell's greatest gift is as a mystery plotter a la Agatha Christie, but she is a master of psychological suspense, unlike Christie. The Wexford series tends to be geared more towards conventional mysteries with a lot of social commentary.


This one is a lot of social commentary with little mystery. Sarah Hussein, a female vicar is murdered - as is the racist gardener who may have seen her killer. It is as if the author is more interested in commenting on the cliched characters she populates the book with - misogynists, racists, wife abusers, women fabulists who make up stories for attention, a gay man who fathers the vicar's daughter via artifiical insemination. his quite possibly jealous boyfriend, old time clergy who resent the new and modern ways of the church.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford may be retired, however he's just as smart and intuitive as ever. Well, perhaps he is a tad more crotchety, especially when his reading of his beloved Decline and Fall Of the Roman Empire is interrupted, but for this reader that makes him all the more endearing. While he's reasonably content in retirement he does miss investigating crimes so when Detective Superintendent Burden asks his old boss to join in the chase Wexford doesn't hesitate.

As it turns out this is an especially intriguing case - the Rev. Sarah Hussain, recently appointed vicar of St. Peter's Church has been strangled. To say that her appointment was greeted with enthusiasm would be a gross understatement. She is not only female but biracial and a single mother. Seems that bigotry and racism are alive and well in Kingsmarkham. But would that be enough to commit brutal murder?

There is no shortage of suspects from Dennis Cuthbert, a church member who not only objected to Sarah but to her modernization of the liturgy, Gerald Watson, an old flame of Sarah's who had taken to what some might stalking her and more. In addition to the coterie of suspects subplots abound including the jam ne'er-do-well Jeremy Legg has gotten himself into by the return of his ex-wife when Jeremy is illegally renting her flat. As it happens his tenants are Jason Sams and family. Jason is the son of Wexford's non-stop gossipy cleaning lady. Then, who is the father of Sarah's daughter, Clarissa?

Burden arrests gardener Duncan Crisp for the murder. Wexford doesn't believe the man is guilty which causes a rift between the two investigators. Days aren't at all sunny in Kingsmarkham and environs, which isn't due to the weather.
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