Not in the Flesh: A Wexford Novel by Ruth Rendell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was one of the better Inspector Wexford novels. The story centers around an old house left to fall to ruins when the owner, the son of the original owner, is not allowed by the planning commission to tear the house down and build 4 houses on the lot. He had a friend dig a trench for the water mains before he received the permission and has to fill it back in. In the few days it is unfilled, someone puts a body in it which is then buried by the backfiller. Eleven years pass before a truffle hunting dog unburies a hand, but that isn’t the only body on the premises. There is also a body in the cellar, which appears to have been there for eight years.
Enter a cast of characters, which is only to be found in the English village of mystery writers. The most amusing is the author who lives with his first wife and his current wife. They refer to each other as “wives-in-law” and the trio seems to get along in harmony. Then there is the old and lonely Mrs. McNeil who seems to exist only to be waited on hand and foot by the appealing Greg, the migrant Dusty Miller, and his betrothed Bridget Cook. Add to the mix the missing husband and father, Alan Hexham and the pot is full of candidates for the skeletons as well as murders.
The ending of this story is fairly predictable, but the interesting cast of characters and subplots makes it an enjoyable mystery. Rendell manages to tie up all the loose ends and everything makes sense when final page is read.
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