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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 December 2003
Anita Margolis, young, beautiful, carefree, has vanished into thin air. She left her home to attend a party one wet evening, but has not been seen since. She is reported missing soon after by her brother, whom she shared a flat with, the acclaimed but eccentric artist Rupert Margolis. Inspector Burden quickly forms an impression of a wanton young girl simply gone off somewhere with a boyfriend having neglected to let anyone know. After all, she was that sort of woman, in Burden's opinion. However, Wexford has his doubts, and those doubts will soon be confirmed, and they will soon find themselves enmeshed in a case that will throw every assumption they make into doubt.
This is an early Wexford book, and it is brilliant. A simple notion, but true. One of the best of the entire series, actually, the fact of its quality equally matches that of the novels she is still producing and marks her out clearly as possibly the most reliable and captivating novelist of her generation, such is her constant unfailing ability. She writes absolutely brilliantly, with an emotional detachedness that makes it so much more powerful when she decides that now is the time to probe in the darkness of a particular characters mind and motivations. And those characters are unendingly fascinating, completely human yet with a shadowy darkness to them, and flawlessly depicted.
But it is not just her characters that mark her books out as special. Setting and story meld in equally with character in the most successful books to create a compelling whole, and Rendell accomplishes this with ease. The fictional Kingsmarkham is almost as tangible and atmospheric as the London she uses as the setting for some of her other non-Wexford novels. The reader feels they could easily be supplanted into the story, onto the streets of this fictional town, and yet already know its environs intimately.
And then, of course, the story too is near-perfect. It is incredibly dark (unusually so for this period – it’s very prescient of the darkness which would imbue her later works), it is clever, it is affecting, it is psychologically acute, it is realistic (despite the false idea that these kind of traditional procedural novels tend not to be), it is engrossing, as well as being a plethora of other laudable adjectives as well. It shifts and moves and surprises and has excellent pace, carrying the reader through on a breathless ride - secured in by the mesmeric hand-at-your-throat grip of the prose - until a tension-filled conclusion, which leaves more than one character irredeemably altered for life.
Wolf to the Slaughter is simply yet another excellent novel from the woman who is, in my mind, the best novelist in the world today. And that is all there is to it. Its just makes me so angry that her publisher lets several of these early books remain out of print! Shame on them!
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on 14 February 2014
This early Wexford novel is an excellent, surprisingly dark tale, The darkness is literal too in that the weather is poor and the season short - the sun only comes out towards the end of this tale and much of the action takes place at night. New detective Mark Drayton is not very likeable but very interesting and most of the other characters are well drawn and presented. Wexford himself starts to emerge from under Mike Burden's shadow as the 'main' detective and we get the first rumblings of his family life here (having briefly met his wife in the last novel, we now learn he has two daughters) and, of course, that family will become much more prominent in the the later novels. The plot twists are clever and unexpected and I think most new readers will be surprised at how things develop. Rendell leads us happily up the wrong path for quite a long time. This is one of her best early efforts.
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Anita - sister of Rupert Margolis - has disappeared. His main concern seems to be that she has left him to do all the housework and he wonders if the police can point him in the direction of some domestic help. Once Wexford and his colleagues have disabused him of this idea they are still left with a niggling feeling that there just might be something in it of interest to them.

This is a well written mystery with lots of interweaving strands which may or may not be connected to the original mystery of what has happened to Anita. Wexford is puzzled by the case especially when it seems that a murder may have been committed because a couple were seen staggering from a house in which a great deal of blood was found. I find Wexford and interesting character and his relationships with his police colleagues are well done.

This is the third instalment of the Wexford series and it is a good example of this excellent series. The psychological aspects of the crime are well done and the motivations of the characters believable. I found I cared what happened to everyone involved.
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on 10 May 2015
Maybe later work would redeem her but dull characters, rambling comings and goings, selfish, casual affairs. But she knows how to suggest lust in the woods without going on too long about it. Unsatisfying dismissal of a bad guy getting what he deserved. A chore to read. We're the 60s so dismal? My 60's were optimistic.
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on 10 August 2010
I had great expectations about this authoress, I love thrillers and such. So it's been a disappointment for me: I'm not saying that I only enjoy simple whodunnits with no psychological sides and turns, on the contrary, I appreciate that the characters may have some depth. But I could find no rhyme or reason here: I could't figure out who the leading character is and got muddled up beetween police inspectors and detectives and so on. The end is so very banal and the characters depth leads them to do unreadable things; their motives are not so clear. In the end you do not breath clean air, but feel very let down beacause when the mistery is unravelled you think, well, is that all it is to it?
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on 18 April 2016
The first Rendell book I read was 'From Doon with Death. Enjoyed it a lot. Made me want to get a map out an plot the locations. Hence bought Wolf to the slaughter immediately afterwards. enjoying that too.
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on 19 November 2015
It is always interesting to read the early work of a major author but I found this a somewhat confused and rambling read. None of the characters really stand out and several times I had to go back several pages to remind myself who was who. However, her next Wexford novel is far better, so I see this book as a worthwhile learning stage.
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on 13 April 2014
How is it possible to not like, or be critical of an author as successful as this.
Well I did not like it. There probably wasn't a crime. There was a maximum of one suspect. It was almost certainly not a murder and there was no mystery.
An entire CID division of a market town with nothing to do but chase up obscure leads that the visionary detective was sure would lead to a crime - but did it?
The plot reveals so much information about the eventually discovered victim that the death would surely be classified as self defence.
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on 9 March 2010
Great book - but don't make the same mistake I did. Though this edition of the book was released in 2009, the book was written in 1967. I'd already read it, but didn't realise until I looked inside the front cover. There should be some way of indicating on the page that a book is a reprint.
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on 3 April 2015
A quick easy read. I came to Ruth Re dell recently ! Easy read, good plot but they are getting dated. I do find her a little patronising about the " working class"
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