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

3.8 out of 5 stars 236 customer reviews
Book 24 of 24 in the Inspector Wexford Series

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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; 1St 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 (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although he's retired, ex-inspector Reginald Wexford can't break the habit of investigating. Fortunately for him, Inspector Burden, formerly his subordinate and now "the boss," generously invites Wexford in on his latest murder case. The victim is exotic, a lady vicar of mixed Indian and Irish ancestry. Although a widow of many years, the Reverend Sarah Hussain had a teenage daughter from an undisclosed father.

Wexford does everything possible to alienate his friend Burden. He ridicules Burden for wasting time on staff meetings. He disapproves of the man Burden has arrested for the murder. And he pursues his own line of investigation, interviewing all sorts of peripheral people unofficially. I kept wondering why Burden put up with him. But of course Burden needs him, as does the story.

All through this book Wexford is reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as befits a man with too much time on his hands. We are privy to his reflections as he philosophized over the death of Attila or an emperor's vicious pet bears. Wexford feels he's "become insignificant in the great scheme of law and order," yet he's the one who solves the case of the murdered vicar.

There are some compelling interpersonal dramas in the story, which Ruth Rendell handles with her usual flair.

The book is full of realistic characters. But Wexford's character is most realistic of all. At age 83, Rendell is in a good position to write convincingly about getting older while the world keeps getting younger, reading Gibbon while everyone else is on the Internet. I think this is what I liked most about No Man’s Nightingale.
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