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- Listening Length: 14 hours and 31 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 4 May 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ8XTY
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Harm Done: A Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery, Book 18 (Unabridged) Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
Rendell seems to improve with age.
For starters, a pedophile is released from prison to live in one of the council
houses in Kingsmarkham. Naturally, the community is literally up in arms. And, more to the point, this novel addresses spouse and child abuse in its various forms, and the readers cannot escape this thematic approach to another of our societal aberrations. Along the way, a policeman is killed by a mob protesting the pedophile's presence, and, eventually enough, there is a murder for Wexford to solve.
The inspector is not without his trusty assistant Mike Burden, and plod they do to solve the case, as much by intuition as by logic and cold facts. Wexford has made a reputation for being able to "sense" the solution in the previous Rendell books. Kingsmarkham, too, has become a regular community in literary geography. The book begins with the disappearance of a teen aged girl, who, miraculously re-appears three days later; in one week, another teenager disappears, and then re-appears. The third person to go missing, next, however, is a three-year old child and the community becomes aflame with violence, as they lay the crime to the pedophile. Mob action follows and in their "reactions," the policeman is killed by a firebomb.
Rendell's penchant for social issues makes her works worth reading anyway; if nothing else they raise a sense of social consciousness and awareness. In "Harm Done," she takes us from one set of family suffering from abuse to another, but not in the sense that it's overkill (pun intended). There is a feeling of disquietude, even depression, as she lays bare the abuse. This is not a book that will fill the reader with gaiety and humor; nor should it be. She is serious about her subject, and it's a subject that her readers, themselves, should be serious about. She also makes a stab irresponsibility of the tabloid press!
Thus, the novel progresses and subsequently ends. And another chapter in the Wexford family has been unveiled. The inspector is a deeply fair man, one who firmly and fully believes in justice and it is his determination to uphold justice that makes us appreciate him so.
Rendell, who also writes under the name of Barbara Vine, has been labeled the "Queen of Crime," as well as having been awarded a number of prizes for her novels. Her works are thought-provoking and far from simple. One cannot read her without being affected in some positive way. It is a pity that the BBC's "Ruth Rendell Mysteries" do not play in America, as most of her Wexford mysteries have been filmed--and fortunately remain true to her books. Her contribution to the genre is far-reaching. "Harm Done" is not to be missed.
As yet another episode of that "soap-opera" this book is perfect: The well-known characters reappear, the saga is taken one stage further, the villains are caught (mostly) all's well and (to quote Wexford's closing phrase) "No harm done".
But as a stand-alone detective story I think this book is weak. There is no *one* mystery but rather a juxtaposition of mysteries, none in my opinion very compelling. They all find their solution in the end, but it's nothing ingenious. You sort of knew all along that something like that would turn out to be the case.
As a Wexford fanatic I don't for one moment regret buying this book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. But I would not recommend this book to anyone who has not read Wexford books before - they're likely to find it boring.
The sub-plots and the themes running through it are sensitively handled, and her narration skill is, as always, suspenseful yet subtle. The suspense seems to unfold slowly and you think that 'this is a strange case', then a quarter of the way through and you're hooked.
Rendell works like that, very strong on eccentric minds and subtle plots, and thought-provoking long after you've finished reading.