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The Monster in the Box: (A Wexford Case) [Paperback]

Ruth Rendell
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Aug 2010 Wexford (Book 21)

The twenty-second book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford.

Wexford had almost made up his mind that he would never again set eyes on Eric Targo's short, muscular figure. And yet there he was, back in Kingsmarkham, still with that cocky, strutting walk.

Years earlier, when Wexford was a young police officer, a woman called Elsie Carroll had been found strangled in her bedroom. Although many still had their suspicions that her husband was guilty of her violent murder, no one was convicted.

Another woman was strangled shortly afterwards, and every personal and professional instinct told Wexford that the killer was still at large. And that it was Eric Targo. A psychopathic murderer who would kill again...

As the Chief Inspector investigates a new case, Ruth Rendell looks back to the beginning of Wexford's career as a detective, even to his courtship of the woman who would become his wife. The villainous Targo is not the only ghost from Wexford's past who has re-emerged to haunt him in the here and now...

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The Monster in the Box: (A Wexford Case) + The Vault: (A Wexford Case) + Not in the Flesh: (A Wexford Case)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (5 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099548224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099548225
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, 'The New Girl Friend'; and a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

Product Description


"Yet further proof of Rendell's amazing criminal mastery" (Evening Standard)

"[Targo] is as good a villain as Wexford ever tried to pin down . . . hauntingly nasty" (Spectator)

"Targo haunted this world, as he haunts the reader: the monster is out of the box and it's impossible to put him back once this book has been closed" (Independent)

"One of the best-written detective series in the genre's history . . . At any time we can return to Kingsmarkham to explore the darker side of humanity with Wexford as our reassuring and humane guide" (Washington Post)

"Ruth Rendell is marvellous at psychological tension... She knits all the threads together with a casual flourish that shows veteran expertise" (Sunday Times)

Book Description

The twenty-second book in the bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series, from the author of classic detective fiction and gripping psychological thrillers including End in Tears and Thirteen Steps Down.

The past is a haunted place...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wexford - and Rendell - back on form! 28 Sep 2009
I came to this new Wexford title with some trepidation. I'd thought the last, Not in the Flesh, was pretty poor, with its shaky storyline and cringe-making subplot about female circumcision (cringe-making because of the quite condescending descriptions of the Somalian girl, not because of the procedure!).

However, I'm delighted to say that The Monster in the Box is a return to form. To be more correct, it's a return to form in some respects, something quite new in others. In what ways is it new? For a start, we go back in time to the days of Wexford's early career and the early stages of his relationship with Dora. These sections of the book are by no means boring filler: there's a particularly shocking scene in a Cornish cottage, for instance (and check out how Rendell plays with the reader's expectations with that one!). This story deals, too, with obsession, putting me in mind of some of the "straight" Rendell novels. It's also a particularly creepy book: the subject of Wexford's obsession, the monster he's trying to keep in the box, is particularly unnerving, almost a supernatural - or at least animalistic - figure.

The story is short, fast-paced, gripping, and in some ways bizarre (I enjoyed the runaway lion).

I think Rendell is better in this one on the race issues, though she's always sailed dangerously close to a condescending wind (so many of her asian characters have "noble" or "elegant" manners or profiles.)

One more point to note, and this is very strange. The novel seems to be set in the late 1990s. Can anyone explain why? I'm scratching my head about this one.

Advice for anyone disappointed by Wexford/Rendell's performance recently: give the pair another shot. This one's a really great performance.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 9 Aug 2010
By Zebedee
The idea for the book of Wexford solving a murder which happened in the past was a good one. However Miss Rendall should have stuck to the point and not go wandering off with reminiscing and getting involved in possible forced marriages.

This is a deary story, the only bit of light was the lion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle ebook edition very poor 1 Nov 2010
By Sarah
Format:Kindle Edition
There were so many mistakes in the transcription of this book the ebook format it made it difficult to read. I know the ebook version is cheaper but it should be of the same editorial standard as the paperback or hardback versions. There is no way that a traditional book would have been sold with this many errors. Amazon take note, shoddy ebooks like this will damage the uptake of the Kindle.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Ruth Rendell so it gives me no pleasure at all to write how much I actually disliked the Monster In the Box. It is actually so bad that it doesn't read like Rendell at all!How can such a gifted writer have created something which is both clumzy and boring, repetitive and annoying! It doesn't make any kind of sense. Do we expect Wexford to tell the story of his obsession about Targo to Burden in installments? No, we don't. Do we deserve the story to be dragged as it is, again we don't. Do we care about it one jot? Indeed we don't. But the worst part, as far as I am concerned, is Burden's wife and the young policewoman 's treatment of the Asian family. Surely there is a case for harassment in there! Reading about it was infuriating and yet I am not particularly PC myself but that some nosey parkers pretending to be open minded should go to such lengths, I couldn't take it! It made me want to scream at the writer because it was so lumpy, unbelievable, caricatural, conceited.....A dreadful book to be forgotten or disposed of...
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DISAPPOINTING!!!!!!!!!! 16 May 2010
As an avid fan of Ruth Rendell novels for many years I ordered this book early and in hard cover as I couldn't wait to read it and how disappointed I was on receiving my copy and settling in for a good read!
The plot if you could call it that was non existent and absolute rubbish.It had such potential when we were taken back to Wexfords past but to base an accusation of murder on how someone looked at you is ludicrous.There were silly sub plots about a possible abduction for an arranged marriage which was again based on nothing more than a hunch as if police had time to chase around following information so fragile.
Ruth Rendell should be ashamed a lazy novel with none of the excitement which we know she can produce.
Dont buy this book you can have my copy for free!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long live Wexford and Rendell! 22 Oct 2010
I feel I really must come to the defence of Ruth Rendells latest Wexford book by some reviewers. I was glad to see him back on the bookstore shelves. The read is NOT boring or tedious in any way in fact I found the book came swiftly to the end and it left me hoping that there would be more Wexford novels to follow with the Kingsmarkham sleuth and his trusty colleague Burden a worthy foil that Rendell uses in bringing contemporary issues into these novels through there dialogue with each other.
In this novel we have Wexford looking at the way in which British society has changed in a generation of how things were and even how everyday expressions have evolved.
The Ageing process....Wexford's diet and his reluctant concerns to keep healthy are a familiar inner battle many of us undergo from day to day in sacrificing the food and drink we used to like to stay fit and healthy! How people he has known have changed therby he too must have as well.
The issue of Islam in British society and the attitiudes the indigenous population have towards their Muslim neighbours who are no longer exotic creatures but citizens going about their everyday lives and the pre-concieved views we unthinkingly take towards them.
All these issue are woven into the fabric of the novel so that it stimulates the mind as a whodunnit with extras.The story is well written and once again Wexford is reliable and consistant.
Long may Ruth Rendell reign, I loved the book and recommend it .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I have always enjoyed the Ruth Rendell (Wexford case) series and this...
I have always enjoyed the Ruth Rendell (Wexford case) series and this book is no different, very well written and a great storyline, if you have read Wexford case stories in the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Waasley
3.0 out of 5 stars Back in the box!
I was looking forward to 'Monster In The Box', one of only 2 Wexford novels I haven't read before. It started off well enough - I was sufficiently intrigued by the mysterious Targo... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Iain C. Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars an unusual series of cases for Wexford
Unlike any other Ruth Rendell I have read. Wexford as a man is revealed, particularly his preoccupation with a man he believes is stalking him? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. P. Carter
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
As well written as any RR books, if a little convoluted! Hoped Targo would get caught in the end, but no.
Published 4 months ago by Paul Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars Wexford reminiscing
I enjoy Rendell's style and Wexford is like an old friend now, though she's struggling at times to keep him fresh. Good plot, some intriguing characters but disappointing ending.
Published 5 months ago by Blondie
2.0 out of 5 stars very hard going
still have not finished it I like Wexford books but this one is not up to standerd, only hope it gets better, that is if I finish it
Published 5 months ago by lilyann
3.0 out of 5 stars Usual Wexford case
Always enjoy Ruth Rendell's Wexford books - they are easy reading when you don't want to over exercise your brain!
Published 6 months ago by Hilary Osborne
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dissappointed
Its been a while since I read any wexford novels and I was about 4 behind. I wasn't as enthralled with this novel as I have been with previous books but I did persevere with it as... Read more
Published 8 months ago by susan marsh
2.0 out of 5 stars Way below standard
I found this dull and pedestrian . Quite frankly I would think twice before buying another Ruth Rendell. The characterisation was very wooden and the [plot not existant. Read more
Published 10 months ago by julia ioannou
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