- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 36 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Phoenix Books
- Audible.com Release Date: November 25, 2009
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002YQ9N2E
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Monster in the Box: An Inspector Wexford Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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I am a HUGE Ruth Rendell fan. I have read all of her books, including those she has written under her pseudonym of Barbara Vine. For those not familiar with her work, she writes magnificent psychological suspense and mystery novels under both the Rendell and Vine names, and a detective series with Inspector Wexford under the Rendell name.
This is a Wexford novel, and as much as I love her books, I admit I am the least enamored with this series, especially some of the latter ones. This is the case with this story.
Brief summary, no spoiler - Inspector Wexford sees a man crossing the street and immediately recognizes him as someone from his past. He is a man named Eric Targo, and Wexford has always believed him responsible for a murder that Wexford first helped investigate as a young policeman. It wasn't that there was evidence per se of Targo's involvement - but more instinct and the oddness of Targo's subsequent behavior that lead Wexford to conclude his guilt, and suspect him of being a sociopath serial killer. But what has been his motive?
Rendell weaves this narrative story with that of a coworkers personal interest and investigation of the possible forced marriage of a young Muslim girl. The two stories become intertwined and coalesce by the end.
Personally, I thought the second story line involving the young girl detracted from the book. It seemed too much like social commentary on Rendell's part, and I thought the parts of the book that dealt with her story seemed contrived and frankly, a slow-go for me.
The parts involving Targo were different, and for those of you who are Wexford fans, it's a lot of fun for us to go back and time and find out about Wexford's past - including his past girlfriends and relationships, and what he was like as a young policeman.
I have always said that a mediocre Rendell is still better than most of the mystery fiction out there, and I think that is the case here. She is just a wonderful writer. But if this is your first experience with this series, I would suggest going back and reading some of the earlier Wexford novels, and not this one.
Eric Targo has turned up back on Inspector's Wexford's turf. The book goes back to Wexford's early years when he was an unmarried rookie cop. He had been sent to a murder scene. A woman had been killed while her husband was out playing whist. It later turned out that the man was really having a liaison with his girlfriend. Outside the murder house young Wexford sees a short muscular man, Targo, out walking his dog. The man stares at him.
From that moment on Wexford develops an obsession about the man and believes he was the woman's murderer. He has no evidence and can find no motive so he keeps the knowledge to himself for years. At times he is stalked by Targo who is an animal lover and has a strange birthmark on his neck which he always keeps covered by scarves. (We hear so much about the birthmark and the succession of scarves and his great love for animals that we get very tired of the repetition.) The book, in general, is repetitious. Another murder of a boy in a park takes place where Targo is tangentially involved, but again there's no motive and no evidence. There's a third murder that closely affects Wexford himself.
For years Wexford keeps his obsession to himself about Targo, the monster, but finally he unburdens himself to his buddy, Inspector Mike Burden.
Another plot is going on in the novel about a Muslim family, the Rahmans. Jenny Burden, Mike's wife, and detective sergeant Hannah Goldsmith have developed an obsession of their own. They believe the family's sixteen-year-old daughter is going to be forced to marry a man she does not know, and that later the family may engage in a honor killing if the daughter disobeys her parents. The lengths that Hannah goes to in getting involved in the girl's life, and the hounding of the family she engages in, are beyond belief. I can't recall a do-gooder overstepping the bounds of proper police conduct in the way she does.
The two obsessions by Wexford and Hannah are so intense that they slowed down my reading. I had to take a break from their persistence. Wexford "wanted justice to be done and hated to see it fail...the wicked must not be allowed to flourish." Targo was "the homicidal dog walker" and "satanic."
The book becomes tedious when people are often interviewed and reinterviewed by Wexford and Hannah.