Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Great Mystery Mistress Leaves Us

From Wikipedia
Ruth Rendell, creator of the sensitive Inspector Reginald Wexford, was a novel mentor of mine, as was PD. James and Ngaio Marsh. That excellent trio came after Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy Sayers. So, sad to say, I learned that Ruth Rendell succumbed to an illness earlier this week. One of the most prolific authors in the mystery genre -- more than 60 novels -- she died at age 85 following a stroke. The family of Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, announced that she passed away in London on May 2. 

There will never be another Wexford, and for that the mystery world has lost a very human policeman. Inspector Reginald Wexford was a flawed man, and so related to the flawed villains he pursued.  His wife is the placid Dora. His daughters are Sheila and Sylvia. He has a good relationship with Sheila (his favourite) but a difficult relationship with Sylvia (who feels slighted though he has never actually intended to slight her).

The first Wexford book was published in 1964. It was several years later that I read From Doon with Death, and that started me on a Rendell addiction. The talented Baroness never feared tackling such psychological subjects as racism or physical domestic abuse. She and the late PD James are credited with pioneering the psychological thriller.

Baroness Rendell wrote a darker series as Barbara Vine, plus many stand-alone novels, short stories and novellas. Many thought her writings were cutting-edge literature. Labels aside, I thought they were brilliant.

Rest in Peace, Baroness.

Gerrie Ferris Finger