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Kissing the Gunner's Daughter: (A Wexford Case) Paperback – April 15, 1993
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From Kirkus Reviews
Rendell's last few books haven't been up to her extraordinarily high standard, but Chief Inspector Wexford's first appearance since The Veiled One (1988) is cause for celebration. The crime under investigation--the murder of monstrous old novelist Davina Flory, her younger MP husband Harvey Copeland, and her daughter Naomi, along with the shooting of granddaughter Daisy--is thick with mysteries beyond whodunit: What were the two criminals looking for beyond a bit of jewelry? How did they make their escape? What's happened to Naomi's business partner, Joanne Garland, and what's her connection to Daisy's father, George (Gunner) Jones? What links the killings to a fatal bank-robbery a year before? Wexford, ruefully treating Daisy as a replacement for his beloved actress daughter Sheila, who's deserted him for an obnoxious, postmodern novelist, patiently sifts the stories of the large cast, setting off the string of quiet, continuous, steadily deepening revelations of character that are the hallmark of Rendell's best work. No matter that the final revelation is at once surprising, predictable (Rendell falls back on one of the oldest clichs of the genre), and anticlimactic. The story marks a masterful return to form for the supreme living exponent of the English detective story. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A very great pleasure ... Beyond praise, completely compelling - will delight all Wexford's admirers" -- Allan Massie Scotsman "Psychologically acute and extremely disturbing, Ruth Rendell's work is outstanding" The Times "The most brilliant mystery novelist of our time" Patricia Cornwell
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Top Customer Reviews
In this mystery, murders occur at a large English estate of a well-known writer and speaker. Wexford and his team set up a murder room in the stables of the estate. They get to know the relationships of folks living at the estate and there are plenty of suspects.
You also get to know the private life and thoughts of Inspector Wexford. One of the most amusing aspects of the novel is the depiction of the behavior of Wexford's daughter's lover. There is a scene in a restaurant which is a total hoot. Let's hope the man's behavior doesn't remind you of anyone you have met.
This is a well-written mystery with rounded characters and good plotting. Our library mystery group is reading it. Will report back with their reaction. Am definitely going to read more in the series.
While certainly above and beyond the average murder mystery, "Kissing the Gunner's Daughter" is a seriously overblown effort, a novel that progresses slowly for the first three quarters and then moves dizzyingly fast in the final quarter. It's hard for the reader to catch interest in the beginning, and even harder to keep track of many of the plot complexities that emerge toward the end. As opposed to her earlier works, stinging little gems that didn't waste a single word, this book is filled with enough descriptions of foliage to turn off a horticulturist.
Ruth Rendell is often compared with P.D. James. Both are superior crime novelists. For ingenious plotting and dazzling surprise twists, Rendell definitely outdoes James. But for a longer, more literate read, P.D. James is still the master.
In this absolute thriller by Ruth Rendell, the author begins "Kissing the Gunner's Daughter," and she doesn't let go of the suspense until the book is finished. A longtime fan of Rendell's Chief Inspector Wexford series, I believe this is my favorite, and I've read them all. Rendell, often called the "Queen of Crime" by the Brits (in fairness, so has P.D. James and Ellis Peters--it depends on which publisher you're reading, I suppose!) presents her lovable Wexford and assistant Mike Burden out to solve another crime in Kingsmarkham.
Police are called when three bodies are discovered shot at Tancred House; only the seventeen-year-old daughter of one of the victims survives; it is from her that the police get their initial clues. As the story develops, of course, not all the clues are what they seem. Wexford is at his best and as the list of suspects continues to grow, it is his remarkable powers of deduction and intuition that prevail.
Along the way, the chief inspector must struggle with a rift he has recently had with his daughter Sheila--this affects his abilities to see clearly, too.
The "Sunday Times" writes that "Ruth Rendell has quite simply transformed the genre of crime writing. She deploys her peerless skills in blending the mundane, commonplace aspects of life with the potent, murky impulses of desire and greed, obsession and fear." In "Kissing the Gunner's Daughter" she holds the reader spellbound to its explosive end. It is a novel that begins and ends not with a whimper but with a bang!
This longish mystery, with well-drawn characters, plenty of red herrings and several social classes, is enjoyable until the end. The book comes to a rapid conclusion, as Wexford uncovers the truth in a burst of insight and detection, while short-changing evidence gathering.