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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 February 2004
The Veiled One is Rendell's 14th Inspector Wexford mystery, and as excellent as all the rest. The continued quality of this series is remarkable. There have only been one or two slightly lacklustre books in it, and those were very early on in her career.
One November evening, Wexford drives him from Barringdean Shopping Centre, noticing nothing amiss. He is preoccupied with family matters. precisely, his daughter Sheila who, in protest, has damaged Ministry of Defence Property, the wire fence surrounding a nuclear weapons facility. An actress, her face is automatically splashed across the papers.
Later, at home, Burden phones through with the news: a garotted body has been founding in the Shopping Centre Car Park, hidden between two cars. She is identified as Gwen Robson, a home-help of late middle-age, who lives in Kingsmarkham with her arthritic husband. However, before Wexford himself cna do much investigating, he too faces death, in the form of a politically motiovated car-bomb inteded for his daughter Sheila. So, Mike Burden forges ahead on his own, quickly narrowing in on a suspect, the son of the woman who found the body. But are his intuitions right?
This is probably Rendell's most psychologically rich mystery. Some of the characters are quite odd, and she lays them psychologically bare, creating fascinating and rather unsettling psychological portraits. Indeed, the depth with which she examines her characters in this book is probably unequalled in any other Wexford novel.
Wexford is on excellent form again, and it's often easy to forget quite what a great lead character he is. An aging policeman, increasingly puzzled by the foibles of society - which Rendell highlights with a percision that emphaises the sharp social conscience of this novel - he should, perhaps, be a little dull. But no! For he's actually a interesting, funny, real human being. A relatively gentle policeman who gradually unravels the solutions to the puzzles which confront him. He has a home life which is realistic and entertaining, and he is quite simply very good company.
The Veiled One is not just a rich psychological mystery, but also an excellent puzzle. The investigation shifts and twists, and the solution is singularly surprising. It's an uneasy, disturbing, unusually gripping police-procedural that has distinct echoes of some of Rendell's psychological thrillers, although never strays quite into that territory. It's an excellent book in the series, but I would say that it's not the best Wexford novel for new readers to start with. To appreciate it fully, it helps if you already know the characters well. My advice is to read the very first Wexford mystery, From Doon With Death, and then simply look forward to this one.
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This had every appearance of being a mainstream police procedural that, even if expertly written, would be entertaining for the duration of the time it took to read it, and then be forgotten quickly. Looks can be deceiving.

Recently I resolved to give Ruth Rendell's Wexford novels a fresh look. Somehow I had decided years ago that they were boring. So I began with the first of the series, From Doon with Death, which came out in 1964. It was an enjoyable mystery, a just the facts ma'am bare bones detective story, an introduction to Inspector Wexford that didn't reveal much about him.

Unable to find the second novel, Sins of the Fathers (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries, No. 2), I moved on to Wolf To The Slaughter. It was dreary and complicated and not very interesting. And Wexford's underling, Inspector Burden, was very annoying with his prim attitude. I didn't finish it.

But then I came across The Veiled One, which was well into the series, first published in 1988, so I abandoned the chronological approach. Inspector Burden is again an unattractive character, judgmental and narrow-minded. When Wexford is hospitalized with injuries, Burden has to take charge of a murder case and determines that one suspect is almost certainly the killer. Despite reservations expressed by both his wife and his boss, Burden sets his sights on extracting a confession from the suspect. This takes an unexpected and curiously satisfying turn.

I have enjoyed most of Ruth Rendell's stand-alone novels and her psychological thrillers written as Barbara Vine, but am now discovering that within what seems initially like the closer confines of the police procedural Wexford novels and its claustrophobic small village Kingsmarkham, she explores British social trends and topics of the day. So far, I'm finding the series a fascinating, if uneven, exploration of British social history, with mysteries thrown in for good measure.
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This had every appearance of being a mainstream police procedural that, even if expertly written, would be entertaining for the duration of the time it took to read it, and then be forgotten quickly. Looks can be deceiving.

Recently I resolved to give Ruth Rendell's Wexford novels a fresh look. Somehow I had decided years ago that they were boring. So I began with the first of the series, From Doon With Death, which came out in 1964. It was an enjoyable mystery, a just the facts ma'am bare bones detective story, an introduction to Inspector Wexford that didn't reveal much about him.

Unable to find the second novel, Sins of the Fathers (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries, No. 2), I moved on to Wolf To The Slaughter. It was dreary and complicated and not very interesting. And Wexford's underling, Inspector Burden, was very annoying with his prim attitude. I didn't finish it.

But then I came across The Veiled One, which was well into the series, first published in 1988, so I abandoned the chronological approach. Inspector Burden is again an unattractive character, judgmental and narrow-minded. When Wexford is hospitalized with injuries, Burden has to take charge of a murder case and determines that one suspect is almost certainly the killer. Despite reservations expressed by both his wife and his boss, Burden sets his sights on extracting a confession from the suspect. This takes an unexpected and curiously satisfying turn.

I have enjoyed most of Ruth Rendell's stand-alone novels and her psychological thrillers written as Barbara Vine, but am now discovering that within what seems initially like the closer confines of the police procedural Wexford novels and its claustrophobic small village Kingsmarkham, she explores British social trends and topics of the day. So far, I'm finding the series a fascinating, if uneven, exploration of British social history, with mysteries thrown in for good measure.
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on 7 December 2011
Another classic from Ruth Rendell , this story involves the murder of a middle aged woman , found in a car park in a shopping centre. Ruth Rendell is a great thriller writer in my opinion , and this book is a very good read, full of suspects and surprising turns.
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on 30 April 2014
Everything is subjective of course, but I truly feel that this and the next two Wexford novels represent the pinnacle of Rendell's writing for her congenial, well-read country detective. I love everything about 'The Veiled One' from the shopping centre car park scene of crime, the intriguing split stories of Wexford and his deputy Burden to the large cast of interesting supporting characters. Even the soon-to-become obligatory Wexford family drama is not too bad in this one and does, at least, contribute to the plot in that it puts Wexford at the heart of the estate where the dead woman lived.

Many of the characters are fascinating studies but none more so than mother and son duo Dorothy and Clifford Sanders. This pair and their atmospheric, creepy home and lifestyle are superbly well done. Thanks to the Sanders' much of the novel has a very dark, almost Gothic feel to it. Rendell does contrast this well though with the colourful life and home of Dita Jago, the cheery dullness of the Robson's home and the bright, bustling shopping centre which is never long absent from proceedings. The moment when Wexford discovers the murder weapon is one of my favourite passages from a Wexford novel ever - its just so clever! Then there's the events surrounding the second murder, tense and fairly horrific - really excellent. As usual, Wexford does take quite a long time to elaborate his theories to conclusion at the end but its well written and I didn't mind too much. I highly recommend this novel and it would be as good a place as any to dip into the Wexford novels.
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on 8 March 2012
Another great murder mystery story from Ruth Rendell. I was completely absorbed by this book and it's a nice handy size. Only gripe is that some of the print was missing but this did not detract rom the enjoyment - some sleuthing of my own!! I absolutely recommend this book.
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on 14 February 2012
I FOUND THIS BOOK A BIT SLOW TO START WITH BUT WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED BY RUTH RENDELL'S INSPECTOR WEXFORD THRILLER,I CAN'T SAY
I HAVE REALLY LIKED A COUPLE OF HER BOOKS NOT IN THE WEXFORD SERIES,PERHAPS I EXPECTED TOO MUCH SUSPENCE.A GREAT READ.
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on 1 August 2012
The book was up to the usual standard -very enjoyable.
This author rarely disappoints . Characters well drawn and a pacy plot
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on 25 September 2014
I am a big fan of Ruth Rendell, but I'm afraid this book , in my opinion, is not one of her best. At times I was rather lost and when a book takes me a long time to read, I know it is not holding my attention.However I award it four stars.
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on 24 May 2013
It is a little repetitive, slow moving, not too exciting but still quite readable. If you want people to review books, don't ask them to say more than is needed.
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