- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Hutchinson; ... edition (2 Aug. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0091920590
- ISBN-13: 978-0091920593
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.6 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,121,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Not in the Flesh: (A Wexford Case) Hardcover – 2 Aug 2007
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The wait is over: heres a new Wexford novel. And Not in the Flesh is one of the sharpest, most astringent outings for Ruth Rendells doughty copper in some time. Rendell's studies in dark psychology (which have at their centre characters who appear only in individual novels) are the most highly regarded among aficionados of her wok, but the unalloyed good feeling prompted by a fresh appearance for her long-term protagonist Inspector Wexford is something to be savoured, and we are once again in safe hands here.
A man taking his dog for a walk in a wooded area stumbles across a grim object -- a severed human hand. The body to which it belongs has been hidden from sight for years, as Wexford subsequently finds out. Of course, with the uncountable numbers of missing persons in police files, Wexford is well aware it will be an uphill struggle tracking down the identity of the body. Shortly after, in the basement of a disused cottage, another victim of violence is discovered, and Wexford and his reliable team find themselves attempting to discover connections between the murders.
Readers might wonder if the production of these utterly surefire Wexford books is an east task for Rendell (as opposed to the rigours of the grimmer psychological novels written under her own name, or the nom de plume Barbara Vine), but there's never a sense of the author on autopilot; this is professional, well-honed, engrossing stuff. --Barry Forshaw
"Rendell's genius with the whodunnit form works to make everything doubly vital. Without being remotely didactic, she is the pre-eminent thematic novelist of her day... Jane Austen would have approved of Rendell's cliché-dissecting wit... It's impossible to imagine her writing anything devoid of import. She is one of the rare breed that make you feel privileged to be around at the same time as they are. She doles out death so that we might feel more alive." (New Statesman)
"If Ruth Rendell were not slotted into the category of writer of mystery novels, she would have won the Booker long ago" (Gerald Kaufman)
"Ruth Rendell's books are not only whodunits but whydunits, uncovering the motive roots of murder" (Mail on Sunday)
"Gripping and memorable." (Sunday Times)
"Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world" (Ian Rankin)
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Top Customer Reviews
Not in the Flesh is something like Rendell's 56th book, her 21st Wexford story. So far, the reviews I have seen have not been kind to it. Some of their criticisms are valid: there's some sloppiness (for example, Wexford on one page putting his faith in hunches and the next condemning intuition), and in tying up one plot point in the final pages she leaves another more vital one (a motive for one of the murders, no less!) completely open), and some lazy plotting whereby character's lives are handily furnished with significant events which allow them to remember a specific day eleven years ago.
However, other criticisms aren't. The moaning about Wexford not aging (every review comes concomitant with a snide comment that Wexford should be ancient or his daughters over 60) seems childish, lazy reviewing picking on easy targets. Since when has real-time been a particular concern of much crime-fiction?Read more ›
The central crime - the discovery of two bodies on a plot of land which have remained undiscovered for a decade - is intriguing, although perhaps the motive behind the crimes won't come as a shock; I had a rough idea of what lay behind the mystery long before the Chief Inspector himself did. Nevertheless, it manages to keep the reader engrossed until the end. As usual, there is a sub-plot which involves Wexford's family, and this time it concerns the horrifying practice of female circumcision. Ms Rendell handles the subject as thoughtfully and sensitively as long-time fans would expect, and the climax to this story strand is nail-biting.Read more ›
To make matters worse, I guessed the motive and the criminal long before the book ended, it seemed pretty obvious to me. I read it to the end but only because of a lingering loyalty, and because the writing itself is smooth enough. But I was never in the action, and I did not at all engage with the characters. The whole thing felt forced, as if the author was fed up of the whole thing but was tossing it off because readers might expect it. A bad move!
I'd give it 2 and a half stars but not couldn't bring myself to give it 3.
All the stuff about political correctness seemed somewhat dated and the sub-plot about female genital mutilation was a bit `preachy' and blatantly a conscious `theme' rather than integral to the novel. I think sub-plots should relate, in some way, to the main plot of a novel but this was at a tangent and added little to the story other than extra characters.
As for the main plot, it lacked tension, both crimes having been committed so long ago. It wasn't until the novel neared its end that it cranked up a gear, by which point I'd guessed the identity of the killer as well as the motive. (nb: the motive for one of the crimes committed seemed very unlikely)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was listening to the audiobook of this. It was quite a struggle at times. I can't exactly pin point what I didn't like about this book, it just didn't work for me. Read morePublished 1 month ago by andylennon
Flesh - Richard Laymon hardcover edn. 1989
I have always been a great fan of horror and supernatural novels since I started reading them as a boy in the early fifties... Read more
A typical Wexford novel.It draws you in from the first chapter.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Oh Dear! I used to love a good Ruth Rendell Inspector Wexford novel so was really looking forward to reading a new one, but sadly I got about a third of the way through with this... Read morePublished 6 months ago by WessexMatt
Disappointing. Like other Ruth Rendell novels, arguably climaxes too early before a bathetic denouement. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Lector Avidus