Ruth Rendell

From Doon With Death

"...Rendell’s debut shows a glimmer of the amazing novels that were yet to come.."


Margaret Parsons life was as prosaic as her name. She was a woman who was hardly ever noticed. That was until her husband reports her missing and is soon found in a wood, murdered. Margaret's life consisted of keeping the cold and rickety house clean and feeding her husband the simple meals they were able to afford on such a tight budget. So what was it that Margaret could have done that made someone wish to kill her?

With nothing for Wexford to grasp in her present life, the tenacious Inspector delves back in to Margaret's past in the hope of finding out more about this woman who lived life under the radar. Gently peeling back the many layers of Margaret's past, Wexford soon comes to an astonishing conclusion that is difficult to associate with the bland Margaret Parsons.

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Not many authors have the pleasure of celebrating fifty years in this industry, and certainly only a handful of writers are credited with playing such a huge role. Rendell is possibly THE most highly respected author in crime fiction, a writer who has pushed and pushed against the boundaries and has produced some of the most stunning novels of modern time. But as any author worth their salt will tell you, someone has to start somewhere and although Rendell's debut shows a glimmer of the amazing novels that were yet to come, there is definitely an air here of a writer just starting out on a very long journey. Even Rendell in her afterword in this new edition says that her first novel should be viewed as an historical piece of work. I love the fact that in the early 60's one could leave houses and garages unlocked without fear of being burgled. Something nobody would ever do in this day and age. For those of us who have read all the Wexford novels, here the great man appears easily impatient, something he manages to reign in as the books progress. And Burden here appears positively youthful and optimistic. How that was to change down the line! The denouement, as Rendell herself confesses, is not as shocking now as it was back in 1964, but it does show that this writing force was willing to go out on a limb, even with her first book. It may not be your favourite Rendell novel, but we should still raise a glass, celebrate the beginning of her career and the wonderful novels she has produced since. Baroness Rendell – we salute you!

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