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Not in the Flesh: A Wexford Novel (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries) Hardcover – June 10, 2008

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Not in the Flesh: A Wexford Novel (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries) + The Babes in the Wood + The Monster in the Box (Inspector Wexford, Book 22)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In addition to solving two long-ago murders, Chief Inspector Wexford is troubled by female genital mutilation in the local Somali community. The temptation would be to cut the subplot, but this abridgment retains the richness of the novel. Tim Curry's performance is splendid, even better than Daniel Gerroll's excellent performance of Rendell's End in Tears. Curry does a particularly marvelous job with the minor characters, such as the two wives-in-law of a local author, who cackle at the sexual innuendos of their own jokes. Then there's 84-year-old Irene McNeil, alternately supercilious and weepy. Throw in the obsessive Grimbles, on whose land the bodies were found; some migrant fruit-picking Roma; Wexford's family; Somali immigrants; and Curry somehow sounds like a full-cast audio. If only Wexford sounded less like his assistant Burden, the performance would be absolutely perfect. A Crown hardcover (reviewed online). (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Rendell, winner of three Edgar Awards, has two primary approaches in her acclaimed crime fiction: edgy novels of psychological suspense and more traditional police procedurals starring Chief Inspector Wexford of Kingsmarkham, Sussex. Where Rendell’s suspense can leave the reader deliciously unsettled, the Wexford novels place the reader on solid, sometimes overly familiar, ground. For example, Rendell overrelies on the old “see who cracks when the police visit” convention, using the questioning of witnesses/suspects in their homes as a launch pad for scathing comments on home decor and the occupants’ physical attributes—after the fourth or fifth visit, the formula starts to creak. But Rendell works feverishly within the form to deliver some surprises, starting here with the discovery of a human hand by a dog trained to hunt for truffles in the woods. The remains, according to the pathologist, have been buried for almost a decade. Wexford centers his investigation on the owners of the land where the hand was found, a contentious couple, greatly caught up in land disputes. When a second body is found in a basement wood pile, the action takes off. Rendell keeps the suspense going nicely, even if Wexford remains something of a cardboard character, and the procedure is mostly rooted in the past. For devoted fans of the series, of whom there are many, this will be much anticipated and, as always, satisfying; for others, only so-so. --Connie Fletcher

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Product Details

  • Series: Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; English Language edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307406814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307406811
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,113,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ruth Rendell's "Not in the Flesh" deals with buried skeletons, both the physical and the metaphorical kind. Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford and his Detective Sergeant, Hannah Goldsmith, report to Old Grimble's Field in Flagford when an elderly man and his dog come upon an old set of remains. Nothing is found with the body to indicate the man's name, place of residence, occupation, or cause of death. However, since the victim was wrapped in a sheet before being buried, it seems apparent that he was murdered and then concealed to avoid discovery. Wexford and his team interview the area's residents, but it is a tedious business, and they emerge with very little to show for their efforts. The mystery deepens when Inspector Burden and DC Damon Coleman discover a second body hidden under a woodpile in the cellar of Sunnybank, an abandoned bungalow on the Grimble property.

The vivid characters take center stage here. As she has done for decades, Rendell trains her gimlet eye on the frailties, foibles, and self-destructive tendencies that lead human beings to behave perversely. Greed, pride, stubbornness, rationalization, and stupidity are all on glorious display here. Seldom in a Rendell book do you meet characters who are kind and altruistic. The author has made a career of studying the dark and decayed roots of emotionally disturbed people; no one does it better. She also examines family relationships in all of their tortured complexity, and poignantly observes how sad it is for the people left behind when loved ones go missing. Rendell's fine descriptive writing, sharp dialogue, and dry humor more than make up for the fussy and complicated plot, with its unlikely coincidences and far-fetched elements.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 3, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This audio book is more than a double treat, it's a sure fire can't-stop-listening-to winner when you pair the estimable acting talents of Tim Curry as narrator and the award winning writing of Ruth Rendell.

Curry won many of us with his unforgettable debut in the cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He has made numerous screen appearances since then, playing diverse roles in such films as Kinsey, Charlie's Angels, The Hunt for Red October and Annie. This actor simply can't be pigeon-holed - on stage he has been nominated thrice for a Tony.

His audio book narrations are as diverse as his professional career ranging from children's titles to science fiction to romance to fantasy and, of course, this stellar rendering of Not In The Flesh. For starters Curry has a wonderful voice, low, deep, strong. It is malleable, if you will, easily moving from tone to tone, intonation to intonation. Born in Britain he retains a hint of a British accent which, of course, serves us well in this story.

What more can be said about Ruth Rendell or how much more praise can be heaped upon her? Surely she has numerous mantels to accommodate all her awards, among them are three Edgars, three Gold Daggers, a Silver Dagger, and on it goes.

For this reader/listener Inspector Wexford is one of her finest creations. Wexford was introduced to us some 35 years ago and by now he's an old friend to many. "Old" is a key word here as he's grown a bit more codger-like with the passage of time, yet just as sharp, clever, and opinionated as ever.

This time out a truffle hunter and his sniffing dog are having great good luck in the Sussex countryside - that is until the competent canine unearths what's left of a human hand.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John F. Rooney VINE VOICE on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In her 21st Inspector Wexford novel, the extremely prolific Ruth Rendell at age 78 is not writing at the top of her form; this is not vintage stuff, rather it is Rendell Lite. We are see-sawed back and forth through interview after interview with the same witnesses. How do I fill up 303 pages? Oh, yes, I'll go back and interview the two wives again, or I'll introduce the theme of African female mutilation.
This being Ruth Rendell all of this manic plotting is done with more success and aplomb than others could do it, but her style isn't as elegant and as brilliant as in her other books. Perhaps she has grown sick of dull, old Wexford. He's a much more gentlemanly detective than Ian Rankin, for example, has dreamed up in Rebus.
So many witnesses interviewed, and so many of the witnesses have detailed memories that are astounding. There are two seemingly unrelated murders. One goes back eight years, one eleven years so the forensics people here are dealing with skeletal remains.
Wexford's wife Dora actually does helpful things in this book rather than serve as the cardboard cutout spouse seen in some earlier books. The team of detectives are not clearly delineated; Peter Robinson in his procedurals gives us fuller portraits.
In several of the many, many interviews, Wexford doesn't ask a crucial question; he and Rendell are saving it for later. Red herrings, like pennies from heaven, rain down all over the narrative landscape.
When she finally gets to her denouement, it seems to make a kind of sense which doesn't quite flow out of a lot of the nonsensical story plotting that has preceded it.
Perhaps it's time for Inspector Wexford to step down and get a computer-savvy guy in there.
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