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The Monster in the Box: (A Wexford Case) Paperback – 5 Aug 2010
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"Yet further proof of Rendell's amazing criminal mastery" (Evening Standard)
"[Targo] is as good a villain as Wexford ever tried to pin down . . . hauntingly nasty" (Spectator)
"Targo haunted this world, as he haunts the reader: the monster is out of the box and it's impossible to put him back once this book has been closed" (Independent)
"One of the best-written detective series in the genre's history . . . At any time we can return to Kingsmarkham to explore the darker side of humanity with Wexford as our reassuring and humane guide" (Washington Post)
"Ruth Rendell is marvellous at psychological tension... She knits all the threads together with a casual flourish that shows veteran expertise" (Sunday Times)
'Yet further proof of Rendell's amazing criminal mastery.' (The Evening Standard)
'[Targo] is as good a villain as Wexford ever tried to pin down ... hauntingly nasty.' (The Spectator)
'Targo haunted this world, as he haunts the [listener]: the monster is out of the box and it's impossible to put him back once this book has [finished].' (The Independent)
'Ruth Rendell is marvellous at psychological tension ... She knits all the threads together with a casual flourish that shows veteran expertise.' (The Sunday Times)
'One of the best-written detective series in the genre's history ... At any time we can return to Kingsmarkham to explore the darker side of humanity with Wexford as our reassuring and humane guide.' (The Washington Post) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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However, I'm delighted to say that The Monster in the Box is a return to form. To be more correct, it's a return to form in some respects, something quite new in others. In what ways is it new? For a start, we go back in time to the days of Wexford's early career and the early stages of his relationship with Dora. These sections of the book are by no means boring filler: there's a particularly shocking scene in a Cornish cottage, for instance (and check out how Rendell plays with the reader's expectations with that one!). This story deals, too, with obsession, putting me in mind of some of the "straight" Rendell novels. It's also a particularly creepy book: the subject of Wexford's obsession, the monster he's trying to keep in the box, is particularly unnerving, almost a supernatural - or at least animalistic - figure.
The story is short, fast-paced, gripping, and in some ways bizarre (I enjoyed the runaway lion).
I think Rendell is better in this one on the race issues, though she's always sailed dangerously close to a condescending wind (so many of her asian characters have "noble" or "elegant" manners or profiles.)
One more point to note, and this is very strange. The novel seems to be set in the late 1990s. Can anyone explain why? I'm scratching my head about this one.
Advice for anyone disappointed by Wexford/Rendell's performance recently: give the pair another shot. This one's a really great performance.
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