Ruth Rendell

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, is an English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries.
Rendell’s best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, is the hero of many popular police stories, some of them successfully adapted for TV. But Rendell has also generated a separate brand of crime-fiction that explores deeply into the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. This theme is developed further in a third series of novels, written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine.
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Edgar Award Finalist: In London, a missing child unites three mothers in grief, madness, and murder.
 
When Benet Archdale was a young girl in North London, her mother, Mopsa, made her nervous. The woman was unsound, and posed ever-present dangers. Yet Benet understood her sickness and forgave her threats. In pursuit of a relatively sane life as a novelist and loving single parent, Benet has since kept Mopsa at a distance. But it’s not only the sudden death of Benet’s two-year-old son that shakes her safe world. It’s the past. Mopsa has returned to be at her inconsolable daughter’s side. Nurturing, rational, and seemingly cured, Mopsa is going to do everything she can to ease Benet’s grief.
 
Then, on the other side of town, the child of a barmaid has gone missing. Authorities fear the search can’t end well. As Benet and Mopsa are drawn into the disappearance, the secrets, lies, and desperation of three mothers will converge—by chance and by design. For them, it’s a crime that is at once a delusion, an escape, and a nightmare.
 
“No one surpasses Ruth Rendell when it comes to stories of obsession, instability, and malignant coincidence,” says Stephen King of this New York Times–bestselling author, and all three come into play in this novel, a winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award. A classic of psychological suspense, The Tree of Hands was adapted twice for the screen: first in 1989, as Innocent Victim starring Lauren Bacall and Helen Shaver; then again in 2001, for the French film Alias Betty.
Dazzling psychological suspense. Razor-sharp dialogue. Plots that catch and hold like a noose. These are the hallmarks of crime legend Ruth Rendell, “the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world” (Time magazine). From Doon with Death, now in a striking new paperback edition, is her classic debut novel—and the book that introduced one of the most popular sleuths of the twentieth century.

There is nothing extraordinary about Margaret Parsons, a timid housewife in the quiet town of Kingsmarkham, a woman devoted to her garden, her kitchen, her husband. Except that Margaret Parsons is dead, brutally strangled, her body abandoned in the nearby woods.

Who would kill someone with nothing to hide? Inspector Wexford, the formidable chief of police, feels baffled -- until he discovers Margaret's dark secret: a trove of rare books, each volume breathlessly inscribed by a passionate lover identified only as Doon. As Wexford delves deeper into both Mrs. Parsons’ past and the wary community circling round her memory like wolves, the case builds with relentless momentum to a surprise finale as clever as it is blindsiding.

In From Doon with Death, Ruth Rendell instantly mastered the form that would become synonymous with her name. Chilling, richly characterized, and ingeniously constructed, this is psychological suspense at its very finest.

Praise for From Doon with Death

“One of the most remarkable novelists of her generation.”—People

“She has transcended her genre by her remarkable imaginative power to explore and illuminate the dark corners of the human psyche.”—P.D. James
INCLUDES AN EXCERPT OF RENDELL’S FINAL NOVEL, DARK CORNERS

From “one of the most remarkable novelists of her generation” (People) a “refined, probing, and intelligent” (USA TODAY) mystery in the masterful Inspector Wexford series…more enthralling than ever after fifty years.

A female vicar named Sarah Hussein is discovered strangled in her Kingsmarkham vicarage. A single mother to a teenage girl, Hussein was working in a male-dominated profession. Moreover, she was of mixed race and wanted to modernize the church. Could racism or sexism have played a factor in her murder?

Maxine, the gossipy cleaning woman who discovered the body, happens to also be in the employ of retired Chief Inspector Wexford and his wife. Wexford is intrigued by the unusual circumstances of the murder, and when he is invited by his old deputy to tag along with the investigators, he leaps at the chance.

As Wexford searches the Vicar’s house, he sees a book on her bedside table. Inside the book is a letter serving as a bookmark. Without thinking much, Wexford puts it into his pocket. Wexford soon realizes he has made a grave error in removing a piece of valuable evidence from the scene without telling anybody. Yet what he finds inside begins to illuminate the murky past of Sarah Hussein. Is there more to her than meets the eye?

No Man’s Nightingale is Ruth Rendell’s masterful twenty-fourth installment in one of the great crime series of all time, an “absorbing and rewarding” (Seattle Times) mystery that explores issues of sexism, class, and racism. As Stephen King said: “No one surpasses Ruth Rendell.”
INCLUDES AN EXCERPT OF RENDELL’S FINAL NOVEL, DARK CORNERS

From crime legend Ruth Rendell, a psychologically intriguing novel about an old murder that sends shockwaves across a group of astonishingly carnal and appetiteful elderly friends: “Refined, probing, and intelligent…never less than a pleasure” (USA TODAY).

In the waning months of the second World War, a group of children discover a tunnel in their neighborhood outside London. For that summer of 1944, the subterranean space becomes their “secret garden,” where the friends play games, tell their fortunes, and perform for each other.

Six decades later, construction workers make a grisly discovery beneath a house on the same land: a tin box containing two skeletal hands, one male and one female. As the hands make national news, the friends come together once again, to recall their long ago days for a detective. Then the police investigation sputters, and the threads holding their friendship together begin to unravel. Is the truth buried amid the tangled relationships of these aging men and women and their memories? Will it emerge before it’s too late?

Stephen King says, “no one surpasses Ruth Rendell when it comes to stories of obsession, instability, and malignant coincidence.” In The Girl Next Door—“yet another gem” (The Washington Post)—Rendell brilliantly shows that the choices people make, and the emotions behind them, remain as potent in late life as they were in youth. “Rendell’s wit, always mordant, has never been sharper than when she skewers patronizing assumptions about the elderly” (Chicago Tribune).
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