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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly good debut novel, also a great mystery
Margaret Parsons is dead. She appeared to lead a very dull life. She had been a "good" woman. Religious, old-fashioned, and respectable, her life had been as spotless and ordinary as her home, as unexciting and dependable as her marriage.
However, it was not because of her life that Chief Inspector Wexford got involved, but her death... How is it possible that a...
Published on 17 Feb. 2004 by RachelWalker

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, rubbish proof reader!
I have to admit I haven't finished the book yet, I am really enjoying the story and it is well written but I am starting to get quite irritated with this version. Every chapter has at least one incorrect spelling, a complete word missing or a letter missing from a word. It feels like someone has copy typed this version from the original and never even bothered to proof...
Published on 25 July 2011 by A Proctor


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly good debut novel, also a great mystery, 17 Feb. 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Margaret Parsons is dead. She appeared to lead a very dull life. She had been a "good" woman. Religious, old-fashioned, and respectable, her life had been as spotless and ordinary as her home, as unexciting and dependable as her marriage.
However, it was not because of her life that Chief Inspector Wexford got involved, but her death... How is it possible that a woman who had led such a quiet, respectable, unspectacular life could have met such a death of passion and violence? To Wexford, it simply does not make sense, until he begins to slowly uncover the layers of Margaret Parsons' real life...
This, the first Wexford novel and Rendell's debut in the world of the published writer, is a remarkable crime novel, for several reasons. Firstly, and most importantly of course, it is an excellent mystery; a brilliant puzzle, worthy of Agatha Christie. The investigation twists and turns down unexpected paths, and the diligent Inspector Wexford follows each clue faithfully, until the entirely satisfying and surprising solution. However, unlike Christie, Rendell's mystery is more rounded. It is more socially conscious (although that's not at al to say that some of Christie's weren't; she was excellent at the divide between the upper- and lower-classes), the characters are more real, more developed, more human and thus more interesting. The writing is also better; more compelling, with greater clarity; precision.
"From Doon With Death" is one of the most important debuts of all time. Not just because it marked the future coming of a great novelist, but because it displayed a CURRENTLY great novelist who has, over the years, simply ascended to pinnacles of even greater excellence and quality. It is a great novel from a novelist who got even better. It has also stood the test of time remarkably. The themes it covers are still very relevant today, and in some areas this book is even very much ahead of its time. Another thing to be noted is that, even though almost 20 other Wexford novels have appeared since, it is still one of the very strongest, and also unique in the series. Rendell has never repeated herself, and over the course of 50+ books, that's rather amazing.
This is an absolutely wonderful debut novel, and a brilliant mystery as well. It comes as highly recommended as all her work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arrow Books disgrace excellent writing, 3 Feb. 2012
By 
Lee Holton "Paola" (Highlands, Scotland) - See all my reviews
A classic, elegantly written series, spoiled by the cheapness of Arrow Books and their disgracefully bad proof-reading. The Wexford books are a witty puzzle and I'm enjoying re-discovering them after many years; they are a refreshing antidote to the under-plotted overly sadistic work of the Scandinavian gorefest writers. Shame that the publishers can't read and won't accept the extent to which typos spoil the enjoyment of reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, rubbish proof reader!, 25 July 2011
By 
A Proctor "MrsP" (Durham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have to admit I haven't finished the book yet, I am really enjoying the story and it is well written but I am starting to get quite irritated with this version. Every chapter has at least one incorrect spelling, a complete word missing or a letter missing from a word. It feels like someone has copy typed this version from the original and never even bothered to proof read it more than once and have just run a spell check over it with no skill.

I *think* I have connected a few dots in the story - you can certainly tell this is a first novel as, unless there is going to be a sudden huge twist at the end, I am pulling together the threads of Margaret's life and seeing who Doon could possibly be. I will have to keep reading and see though.

I would highly recommend the story - perhaps try a different print edition though!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A REAL EYE OPENER!!!!!!!!, 22 May 2015
By 
Greggorio! (Amazing Australia) - See all my reviews
This volume, being the opening ’chapter’ of the world famous Adam Dalgleish series of detective novels, is the first Rendell book that I have read for far too long. This novel opens as a search for a missing person, but soon transforms into the hunt for a killer. Clues are scattered - and hidden - throughout the book’s pages beautifully, and like all great mysteries, it takes a genius to absorb every layer of depth there is in this book in one sitting. A newbie like me, for example, is too busy sitting in wonder at the characterisations, and the atmosphere and the perfect representation of everything about England that Ms Rendell obviously held dear to her heart.

One could say the book is quintessentially English, and I suspect that is correct, but one could also describe the book as a quintessential Rendellism. I quite like that phrase. Speaking of class, this quote took my fancy on the train ride to work this morning: taken from page 55:

’ ... As he spoke light seemed suddenly to have dawned on Missal. He blushed an even darker brick red and his face crumpled like that of a baby about to cry. There was despair there, despair and the kind of pain Burden felt he should not look upon. Then Missal seemed to pull himself together... ’

I must admit to struggling with the book prior to coming across this jewel, but the book almost jumped out of my hands as my eyes struggled to believe what they were seeing. And of course, I look at the book with a fresh set of eyes now, every time I am lucky enough to read a few more pages.

So who killed Margaret Parsons? The case appears to break open somewhat at the book’s half way mark, with the discovery of hidden love notes and dedications in the victim’s attic. Hard work rarely goes by unrewarded, and soon the leg work (and the brain work) of the good guys gifts them with a strong lead and a suspected resolution. We find out by book’s end who the murderer was (or do we?) but for me that is of secondary import. My primary goal in opening and experiencing this tome was to see what all the fuss was about when it came to the Ruth Rendell mysteries.

I can say now they are awesome.

Dalgleish is a legend. I can’t wait to read them all!

BFN Greggorio!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is Doon?, 13 Feb. 2000
By 
tuppence (Adelaide , Australia) - See all my reviews
This is the first of Ruth Rendell's books and we are thrust into the death of Margaret Parson's. All we have are the inscriptions in books from Doon, who is Doon and what is the link to Margaret? I was so pleased to come across this novel. the first in the series of Wexford novels. This book will have you wondering who is Doon ? and you won't know till the final pages. A very good first novel and as we know the rest is history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good social observation, but what became of Dudley?, 12 Oct. 2014
Just reread this. It is atmospheric - you can see the houses where the characters live. Murder victim Margaret Parsons lives in a largish Victorian house that has not been "modernised" - it looks unchanged for 50 years. There is parquet-effect lino on the floor and a brass letter rack on the wall. This is in contrast to her two old school friends' homes: one is tasteful in a colourless, Gothic style, with tapestry hunting scenes in the large entrance hall; the other is nouveau riche, with play equipment for the children and a hammock in the garden. Clothes are also a class giveaway: Margaret wears permed hair, a cotton dress, bare legs, sandals, a cardigan and a rain hood. (This was frumpy in 1964, and she's only 30.) Nouveau riche Helen wears a lot of turquoise and royal blue (together), while tasteful Fabia prefers dark colours. We don't learn much about Wexford and Burden - they are defined more by their modernistic police station (with steel and tweed chairs). Later books became more soap opera, and we learn a bit too much about them.

One good point about this (very short) book: she is writing about people and interiors she knows. Later books sound as if they are based on research.

One thing puzzles me, though: what becomes of Dudley Drury? Why was he so frightened? Was his wife ever questioned? What had he buried in the vegetable plot? What is he hiding?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wexford Reconsidered, 11 April 2012
By 
takingadayoff "takingadayoff" (Las Vegas, Nevada) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
After twenty years of reading Ruth Rendell novels, I finally realized that every time I started one that featured Inspector Wexford, I quickly lost interest. Another ten years has passed, and it's time to give the Inspector another chance. The only fair thing seemed to be to start with his first appearance.

From Doon With Death came out in 1964, so it's dated, to be sure. Many working class households still didn't have a phone. It would be another decade before decimalization of the currency, so people still dealt with shillings. And when a suspect in a murder case had to have her fingerprints taken, once she'd been cleared of the crime, the police assured her that the prints would be destroyed, as they had no further use for them. Times have changed.

This first Wexford case moves briskly, police procedural style, very businesslike. We learn practically nothing about Wexford or his colleague, Inspector Burden. It's all about the murder case. I quite liked it.

The "surprise" ending was not as shocking as it must have been in 1964, and so a reader in 2012 is at an advantage in predicting the outcome.

Now I'm looking forward to the second Wexford case, Wolf To The Slaughter.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sense of proportion, 4 Jun. 2011
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is Ms Rendell's debut and shines brightly in the UK at a time when, it seems to me, the better novelists were ploughing the espionage furrow.

Once again we are in the 'sleepy village in the Home Counties' ie. the murder capital of Planet Earth. Yet this time, there is a modern population which doesnt consist of retired colonels and blue-rinsed, curtain twitchers.

In fact, social class is an overwhelming theme. The contrast between the 'modest semi' world of victim 'Mrs.P' and the 'posh houses' of the suspects investigated by Wexford, is painstakingly developed and a breath of fresh air.

With hindsight it is highly amusing that Ms Rendell should describe Wexford as 'the very prototype of an actor playing a top-brass policeman'; this shows amazing prescience!

There are reservations concerning the modus operandi and portrayal of a 'lyrical' Wexford who is the only person who can 'connect' with the killer. The reader also needs to remember that the this is the early 1960's and police procedures have moved on.

This is the third Rendell/Vine I have read and every time I finish with a feeling of not quite understanding how the book has got under my skin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not doon it for me any more, 16 May 2015
By 
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On the death of Ruth Rendell, I sought this out to see what all the fuss had bee about. It's fairly gentle, and Wexford is clearly not yet fully formed. Obviously of its time, it hasn't really stood the test of time, as perhaps best symbolised by the supposedly shocking denouement, which today wouldn't raise the eyebrow of an infant (through no fault of the author!).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle have ruined an excellent book, 6 Nov. 2011
By 
E. Ford (Essex) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I must concur with the last negative review. I paid £5.50 for my kindle version of a terrific book and it was utterly spoiled by the constant typographical errors and spelling mistakes. OK if I'd paid nothing or a couple of pennies I might have expected a couple of errors. However, these mistakes were two to a page, or more. I'm just sorry I didn't take more notice of previous reviews. I will definitely be more cautious in future and I hope you wont make my mistake.
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