- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: September 13, 2011
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005MM7FZE
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Vault: An Inspector Wexford Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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Even though Ruth Rendell has a reputation for being one of the top mystery writers, I'd never read any of her books. When Kindle offered The Vault for a bargain of $2.99, I jumped. However, after four days of checking back and forth to remind myself which character was which, getting distracted by numerous editing errors (Wex-ford, flyover, "diffidently" appearing twice on one page and much more) I finally gave up. I realized I didn't really care who'd done it--or why.
I skipped to the last ten pages and was so astonished by the ridiculous ending that I glad I hadn't bothered to read more than I had.
What's wrong? To begin with, flat characters who never come to life--and way too many secondary characters and their aliases to keep track of, not to mention a confusing timeline for a murder that happened 12 years earlier. Adding to this mess is a an irrelevant--and ugly-- subplot involving Wexford's/ Wex-ford's daughter, and Wexford rambling down so many London street--all of which he names-- that I felt I could have been on a double-decker sightseeing bus. Accepting the outlandish number of coincidences --such as finding the elusive Francine as Wex-ford/Wexford walks down the wrong street--requires a more suspension of disbelief than I could muster.
I found myself remembering a writing teacher I knew who advised would-be novelists to just get words down onto paper (aka:" the sh**ty first draft") and then go back and refine the piece: flesh out the main characters, delete the unnecessary sections that don't drive the plot forward, make the whole thing cohesive and compelling through a series of re-writes.
Unfortunately It seems in writing The Vault, Ruth Rendell got the "first draft" part done--and then sent it straight to print, without even a good re-reading, the helping hand of a good editor and good eyes of a proofreader. Okay, I'm in the minority here, since most of the other reviewers here loved this, but really, the only good thing I can say is it was only cost $3...and since The Vault worked pretty well as a sleep aid, all was not lost.
In this outing, however, we see a different Reg Wexford. He is now retired, and still trying to adjust to this new reality of life; living most of the time in his daughter's carriage house in a swish part of London with his wife, and spending his hours prowling the city's nooks and crannies. So when four bodies are found buried in a former coal hole, under a patio, he's on hand to serve as an unofficial investigator for the detectives in charge of the investigation in the way he once was. And that ambivalent role -- while it torments Wexford, who mourns the day when the Poirots and Peter Wimseys of the world commanded respect from the authorities -- makes this mystery feel more fresh for readers who might have become weary following Wexford around his Kingsmarkham home.
The plot itself is nicely tangled, even if it takes a while for the suspense to mount and even though the story itself isn't really a thriller or psychological drama of the kind that Rendell also pens. Even if Rendell isn't spending as much time as she used to on her Wexford novels, crafting great writing, they are still intriguing as psychological character studies and -- in this case -- a study of a time and place. I enjoyed this as much for the insights into the way London and its inhabitants are changing and the people that Wexford encounters, such as the busybody arrogant former South African woman who looks down her nose at the hired help, or the beleagured born-again detective whom he is assisting.
Recommended primarily to fans of the series; if you're in love with Rendell's other books, such as those published under her nom de plume of Barbara Vine, be aware that these are more traditional police procedurals and unlikely to offer the same kind of chill factor.