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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Lease of Death
Wexford is asked to meet Henry Archery who wants him to look again at the murder of Mrs Primero which happened fifteen years ago. Wexford believes the correct verdict was reached and as it was his first murder case in which he was the officer in charge he is naturally a bit prickly about it. Archery believes that the killer was wrongly convicted and sets out to prove...
Published 18 months ago by Damaskcat

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A New Lease of Old Moralities
Some books transcend time: the characters, the situations, the themes. You can read them now and "connect" comfortably. Most Agatha Christie stories do this. Probably the reason they're still read and loved, in English and in translation around the world, to this day.

Other books are firmly rooted in a period: whether by the language, by the characters'...
Published on 25 Oct. 2009 by Daniel Sellers


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A New Lease of Old Moralities, 25 Oct. 2009
By 
This review is from: A New Lease Of Death: (A Wexford Case) (Paperback)
Some books transcend time: the characters, the situations, the themes. You can read them now and "connect" comfortably. Most Agatha Christie stories do this. Probably the reason they're still read and loved, in English and in translation around the world, to this day.

Other books are firmly rooted in a period: whether by the language, by the characters' preoccupations or by the society they depict. I'm thinking this is one of the main ways in which Dorothy Sayers differs from Dame Agatha ... The reader has to make a bit more effort to get into the mindset of the story. There are other books, though, that require more than a bit of effort: Ruth Rendell's A NEW LEASE OF DEATH fits into this category: the story works within a time and mindset that is very much of the past, but one whose sensibilities are presented in way deeply alienating to the modern reader, oddly much more so than the class-obsessed sensibilities of the Sayers-Wimsey novels. What do I mean? Well, for this story to work, we must accept that having a child out of wedlock is shameful to a paralysing degree. We are also required to identify with a protagonist (Henry Archery, a vicar) who is against his son's marrying the woman he loves, because of something her old dad did (murder an old woman and hang for it).

The Rev Archery tootles about Kingsmarkham trying, not very effectively, to prove the murderer innocent of his crime, because only then will the dear old fusspot sanction the marriage! It's deeply irritating. We have to put up with this wretched man's neurotic struggle to support his son in spite of what his faith tells him is morally unacceptable. I think the problem here is that everyone (Wexford, the son, the young woman) just rolls over and indulges the man's need to KNOW THE TRUTH - and the reader is obliged to indulge this nonsense as well. The obvious hypocrisy is never challenged, is never questioned, is even RESPECTED, even by Wexford, who in later books is something of an iconoclast, bursting pomposity and exposing hypocrisy.

And the ending, without giving anything away, is so very unsatisfying that it made me want to throw the book across the room. I'd seen it coming from about the halfway mark and was disappointed to be proven right. Sentimental and ludicrous.

I am struggling to explain why I'm so cross about this. Agatha Christie used the conceit of nice-chap-worrying-about-new-girlfriend-having-"bad-blood"-because-mum-or-dad-was-a-killer time and time again as a reason for opening old cases (FIVE LITTLE PIGS springs to mind). Maybe Dame Agatha gets away with it because for her books it was only ever a device for kick starting what was going to be a juicy puzzle with a satisfying solution. And A NEW LEASE OF DEATH doesn't offer a decent puzzle, only a wet REsolution.

In conclusion, today's readers are simply a world away from stories that indulge rather than shake up old moralities and hypocrisy. This isn't the same Ruth Rendell who would later write the wonderful A DARK-ADAPTED EYE.

Plus points: it's a nice edition and it's pleasant enough to spend time in Wexford's company. Ultimately, though, it's an opportunity to be thankful for the Rendell oeuvre that came after this odd little book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Lease of Death, 7 Sept. 2013
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Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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Wexford is asked to meet Henry Archery who wants him to look again at the murder of Mrs Primero which happened fifteen years ago. Wexford believes the correct verdict was reached and as it was his first murder case in which he was the officer in charge he is naturally a bit prickly about it. Archery believes that the killer was wrongly convicted and sets out to prove it. In the process he opens rather too many cans of worms.

This is the second in the Wexford series and very good it is too. There is little overt violence and a great deal of interesting insights into all the characters. The psychological aspects of the murder and its effects on the people concerned are very well done and convincing. I like the police characters and the way Wexford and Burden interact.

I first read this series more than twenty years ago and it has stood the test of time very well indeed and the books bear re-reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a detective novel, 10 Feb. 2014
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Wexford is not actually the hero or main character in this book. The lead character is a middle aged vicar whose son wishes to marry the daughter of a convicted murderer. The vicar sets out to clear the fathers name so that his future grandchildren will be untainted.
I actually enjoyed this far more than I thought I would
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interewting, 26 April 2014
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INteresting to read the attitudes of the 50s and 60s quite hard to accept but you have to otherwise te story doesn't work
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More dated than most..., 14 Feb. 2014
By 
Iain C. Davidson "iain1825" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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'A New Lease Of Death' was published in 1967, the second of Rendell's Wexford novels. Whilst I always enjoy the nostalgic elements of these early novels, I do feel that this one suffers more than most from the passage of time. The motivations of some of its characters are rooted firmly in the times to the point where its quite difficult to even understand them, reading today! As a result of this perhaps, the principal character of Henry Archery starts out insufferable and ends up rather pathetic. There are very few likeable characters in this novel - Archery's son, his daughter-in-law-to-be (who should be sympathetic) and her rigidly respectable mother are all irritating. The denouement is ultimately unsatisfying and, really, the only things to save this book from a two star (in my opinion) are the Crilling duo, mother and daughter who are also unlikeable but are, at least, interesting. All Rendell's novels are worth a read but this, IMO, is not one of her best.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Wexford novel, not a mystery!, 13 Dec. 2013
By 
Michael Farman (PALESTINE, TEXAS, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A New Lease Of Death: (A Wexford Case) (Paperback)
Since Wexford and Burden are only guest characters in this novel, it seems misleading to call it a Wexford mystery, especially because the plot has little that can be identified as mystery. The story, such as there is, hinges on a series of highly coincidental meetings by rather conventional people and the outcome is predictable. There is even an improbable love encounter. Like other reviewers, I was put off by the dated view of moral issues and the apparent acceptance of the petty prejudices that were dated even at the time the novel was written (1969). This book is nothing like the later Ruth Rendell novels that have interesting characters, clever plots, and often deal with bigger moral questions.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Well read but disappointing, 14 July 2013
This review is from: A New Lease of Death (Audio CD)
We listened to this book on CD during a long drive through France and it certainly helped the miles fly by. Ruth Rendell weaves an intricate plot with interesting characters and her turn of phrase is excellent. The book is well read. However the plot has some unsatisfactory elements. The main protagonist is not Inspector Wexford but Henry Archery, a country vicar, who is opposed to his son's choice of fiancee because she is the daughter of a murderer. If he can prove that her father is not a murderer then his son's marriage can go ahead. How potty is that? The denouement involves some massive leaps of unlikely deduction and is not adequately explained. It left this listener disappointed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rendell is as Frustrating as Ever, 18 Nov. 2003
By 
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A New Lease of Death (Hardcover)
Ruth Rendell must be one of the most frustrating authors working in the mystery genre, a woman of considerable talent who seems to go out of her way to undercut her own ability. And A NEW LEASE OF DEATH is rather typical of her work: what plot there is is repeatedly swamped by Rendell's determination to expose the psychology of her characters--psychology which is often far-fetched and which seldom has anything to do with anything in the book.
As the novel begins, Chief Inspector Wexford recalls his first murder case: the ax murder of an elderly woman. Fortunately for the then-inexperienced Wexford, the case was remarkably straight-forward; the woman's handyman was obviously guilty. But now, some fifteen years later, a Vicar named Archery has requested an interview with Wexford about the case, and when he arrives he wants to know if there was even a remote possibility that the man convicted was innocent after all. When Wexford negates the idea, Archery sets off on his own to interview the various people connected with the case, hoping to prove Wexford wrong.
The premise is much more interesting than the novel itself. The book opens with no less than two full chapters of exposition--and then Rendell's oddities take over, knocking herself out to expose the psychology of her characters, whether such has any bearing on the story or not. As for the mystery itself... Rendell writes and presents the story exactly as if she were creating a murder mystery, but there is no mystery, none at all, just a series of revelations that arise through pure coincidence and lead every one to some very obvious conclusions about everything from the crime itself to the way in which their lives have been affected by it.
There are a great many people who admire Rendell's novels, but while I recognize her stylistic skills I find her chiefly memorable as a mystery novelist whose novels either have a foregone conclusion or no conclusion at all. The book is readable--Rendell's style is very driving. But if you actually want to read a murder mystery that has any element of mystery to it, you'd do better to go with a different writer.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A real let down., 23 Dec. 2014
Oh dear. What a mess. When the 'solution' finally comes it's so contrived you begin to wonder why the right questions were not asked in Chapter One. Added to which we get a silly sub-plot with a vicar failing to resist temptation (well almost) that stretches the book out unnecessarily. Agatha Christie did a similar storyline so much better in her much-maligned 'Elephants Can Remember' (which is nowhere near as awful as critics claim). The only positive thing about the book is that Wexford, who hardly appears in it, is slightly less obnoxious than he usually is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good old inspector wexford, 31 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: A New Lease Of Death: (A Wexford Case) (Paperback)
all ruth Rendell books deserve 5 stars. it is a great read for anyone who likes detective novels. would definitely
recommend
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A New Lease Of Death: (A Wexford Case)
A New Lease Of Death: (A Wexford Case) by Ruth Rendell (Paperback - 1 Oct. 2009)
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