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Shake Hands For Ever - a novel which takes its title from a work by Michael Drayton - is very much a Wexford novel. There's not a lot of Burden here at all, instead Rendell turns her full attention to the character of Wexford, and his frustration when he comes upon a case which he feels he knows the answer to, but cannot prove. Until, one year after it occurs, new information starts turning up...
Robert Hathall is bringing his overbearing, overcritical mother home to meet his second wife Angela, a woman whom Mrs Hathall clearly detests (mainly for the fact that she thinks she split up her son's first marriage). Angela was supposed to meet her husband and mother-in-law at the train station, but didn't turn up. Eventually, the two make their way home, and discover her dead body, strangled on the bed. Having cleaned the house immaculately for the impending visit, there is almost nothing to go on.
This is not really a whodunnit, as pretty early on Wexford decides he knows who did it. All he has to do is prove it, and the why, and the how. But it proves an impossible task, and when he is warned off the case by his superior, for "harassing" his chief suspect, Wexford undertakes some private investigations of his own...
Although I don't think Shake Hands for Ever is quite the one of the best Wexford novels - it is beautifully focused, yes, but as this is mainly a "Wexford must prove his theory" novel, there aren't a great range of characters, although those that are are as well-drawn and fascinating as ever - it is still very fine indeed. It boasts, of the Wexford books anyway, possibly Rendell's finest last-chapter shock of her career. It's an excellent crime/mystery novel, which even though we think we know what is going on, is far from predictable, and the story goes deeper than we at first think. The prose is sharp, and socially aware as ever. Ominous and dark, too, brilliantly balanced by some moments great humour. Rendell's almost vicious wit is often glossed over, not even noticed, by most reviewers, but it is another of those things which make her so special. Her latest book, The Rottweiler, was full of it, and it was marvellous!
Before I conclude, let me mention something: of Rendell's 40+ titles from this publisher, would you like to guess how many are now freely available, abundant in the bookshops, readily in print? The answer is 12, of which Shake Hands For Ever is one. 12 books from 40 (they're reprinting 6 (none of which are Wexford, by the way!) in July, to bring the total to 18). I think that is absolutely appalling. A travesty. It actually upsets me somewhat! I must now offer my obligatory plea: to rectify this, please send an email to her publisher random house! I know I mention this all the time, and must sound obsessive about it, but 12 out of 40 is quite frankly unacceptable. Consider all those readers who will never enjoy the full Rendell experience...
To sum up, Shake Hands For Ever is, though not the very very best, a great Wexford novel from Ruth Rendell - one who all fans of hers must read.
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on 21 April 2002
This story begins with a murder, as do most of Rendell's books featuring super sleuth Chief Inspector Wexford. Wexford is puzzled by the seemingly motiveless slaying of a young homemaker. The woman and her husband are new to the area, none of the neighbours have had anything to do with the victim. Their relationship must be new too, as the victim is unknown to her mother-in-law who discovers the body. We are drawn, as usual, into Wexford's investigation. He still has the doleful Mike Burden as his loyal assistant. This story, like others featuring these two detectives, brings us up to date on their private lives. Rendell brings her characters to life and their families are crucial to the background of the series.
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on 13 March 2014
'Shake Hands Forever' is an interesting departure in the Wexford series in that it is less of a whodunnit than a 'whydunnit'. There is a small twist at the end but, frankly, astute readers should see it coming WAY before Wexford does! It starts well and there are some really excellent character portraits - especially Hathall and his mother (you can tell that Rendell really enjoyed writing HER) and the whole thing is quite intriguing...but then it all fizzles out and the second half of the book becomes very samey and often uninteresting as Wexford stalks his suspect around London. The 'why' in the whydunnit is ultimately rather unsatisfying and it doesn't help that a major element of it doesn't even begin to surface until nearly the end of the book - it seems 'tacked on'.

Then there is the subplot involving the dubious charms of over-ripe rose Nancy Lake, who attempts to seduce the now slim-line Wexford. I think that we are supposed to like her but it doesn't work - at least for me - and I could never believe in the relationship. I always enjoy Rendell's Wexford books and I enjoyed this one, but compared to the best ('From Doon With Death', 'Sleeping Life', 'Veiled One', 'Gunner's Daughter' and 'Simisola') its a bit of a disappointment.
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Shake Hands For Ever - a novel which takes its title from a work by Michael Drayton - is very much a Wexford novel. There's not a lot of Burden here at all, instead Rendell turns her full attention to the cahracter of Wexford, and his frustration when he comes upon a case which he feels he knows the answer to, but cannot prove. Until, one year after it occurs, new information starts turning up...
Robert Hathall is bringing his overbearing, overcritical mother home to meet his second wife Angela, a woman whom Mrs Hathall clearly detests (mainly for the fact that she thinks she split up her son's first marriage). Angela was supposed to meet her husband and mother-in-law at the train station, but didn't turn up. Eventually, the two make their way home, and discover her dead body, strangled on the bed. Having cleaned the house immaculately for the impending visit, there is almost nothing to go on.
This is not really a whodunnit, as pretty early on Wexford decides he knows who did it. All he has to do is prove it, and the why, and the how. But it proves an impossible task, and when he is warned off the case by his superior, for "harassing" his chief suspect, Wexford undertakes some private investigations of hiw own...
Although I don't think Shake Hands for Ever is quite the one of the best Wexford novels - it is beautifully focused, yes, but as this is mainly a "Wexford must prove his theory" novel, there aren't a great range of characters, although those that are are as well-drawn and fascianting as ever - it is still very fine indeed. It boasts, of the Wexford books anyway, possibly Rendell's finest last-chapter shock of her career. It's an excellent crime/mystery novel, which even though we think we know what is going on, is far from predictable, and the story goes deeper than we at first think. The prose is sharp, and socially aware as ever. Ominious and dark, too, brilliantly balanced by some moments great humour. Rendell's almost vicious wit is often glossed over, not even noticed, by most reviewers, but it is another of those things which make her so special. Her latest book, The Rottweiler, was full of it, and it was marvellous!
Before I conclude, let me mention something: of Rendell's 40+ from this publishers, would you like to guess how many are now freely available, abundant in the bookshops, readily in print? The answer is 12. 12 books from 40 (they're reprinting 6 (none of which are Wexford, by the way!) in July, to bring the total to 18). I think that is absolutely apalling. A travesty. It actually upsets me somewhat! I must now offer my obligatory plea: to rectify this, please send an email to her publisher randomhouse! I know I mention this all the time, and must sound obsessive about it, but 12 out of 40 is quite frankly unacceptable. Consider all those readers who will never enjoy the full Rendell experience...
To sum up, Shake Hands For Ever is, though not the very very best, a great Wexford novel from Ruth Rendell - one who all fans of hers must read.
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on 25 June 2013
From start to finish this story lives up to Ms Rendell's usual high standards of intrigue.
It had me fooled a few times.
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on 26 December 2012
This really has you on the edge of your seat in seeing how Inspector Wexford can solve this case. In fact I really enjoyed the way Inspector Wexford finanlly resolved the case.
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on 14 December 2015
As tense, very readable and leaving the reader guessing or trying to work out the solution - wrong - of course, but very interesting tothe last page
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on 27 October 2013
Have read all Ruth Rendell's books, but missed this one. Really enjoyed it she always delivers a good read and always beautifully written.
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on 12 March 2014
Very prompt delivery service and the product was exactly what I wanted. The story line and plat keeps you guessing right up to the end.
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on 11 December 2013
A good story from an excellent writer. Particularly interesting to see cultural references of the time. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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