First published in 1964, this is the first Chief Inspector Wexford mystery. For some reason I had never read the Wexford novels before and it is a good beginning to the series. The story begins when Inspector Mike Burdon is alerted by a neighbour that his wife is missing. Ronald Parsons almost prides himself on his dull and respectable life. He claims it is totally out of character for his wife, Margaret, to disappear without word. Burdon tends to agree and contacts the police station. When Margaret is found murdered, it is up to Wexford and Burdon to unravel Margaret's past and discover what led to the death of a quiet, suburban housewife.
Although this book does feel a little dated, that adds to the charm. Although Ruth Rendell does use certain stereotypes, it is clear that she has laid down a great basis for further books - Wexford is plain talking, intelligent and not easily swayed by a pretty face; Burdon a great sidekick and the small town of Kingsmarkham well described. Unusually, Rendell does not make any of the characters particularly sympathetic and that adds to the reality of the crime and suspects. There is also a great twist and sharp plotting, which bodes well and makes me want to read on.
The next book in the series is A New Lease Of Death: (A Wexford Case)
. However, I do agree strongly with other reviewers that this kindle book had a large number of typos, which is very disappointing. I am sure that a proof reader could have easily rectified the mistakes and, although I expect to see them in a self published book, it is unacceptable to find so many in a traditionally published ebook. However, the story itself was good and I am looking forward to reading more.