The Speaker of Mandarin (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries) Audio CD – Audiobook, 26 Aug 2014
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"The most brilliant mystery writer of our time" (Patricia Cornwell)
"Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world" (Ian Rankin)
"Through the quality of her writing she's raised the game of the crime novel in this country" (Peter James) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'The most brilliant mystery writer of our time.' (Patricia Cornwell)
'Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world.' (Ian Rankin)
'Through the quality of her writing she's raised the game of the crime novel in this country.' (Peter James, International bestselling crime thriller novelist) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It feels a tiny bit dated but then it has been around for a while.
This is one to read when you are in need of relaxation and want something that also needs a brain. Enjoy!
The second section of the book occurs some months later when Wexford is back in England and investigating a murder of a local woman. It will come as no surprise that Wexford met this woman whilst in China and much of his investigation centres around that trip. This section of the book was quite average for a detective novel. There were plenty of visits and repeat visits to various characters, several red herrings that the book could have done without and a conclusion which really made the whole first section of the book rather nul and void.
As detective novels go this was a fairly lightweight and standard book. I listened to this as an audio book whilst doing other things and it very much suited this style of reading - it didn't require much attention to keep the thread of the story. Having said that, I did get slightly lost amongst the characters who had been on the trip to China. They were quite cardboard and had few distinguishing features so that they seemed to merge into one. However, I feel that this would have happened regardless of how much attention I was paying.
As long as you don't want to give much attention to the reading and don't expect a brilliant story in return, this book is ok to read. I doubt very much that I will be able to recall any of the plot or characters in a few days as they just didn't stand out for me.
However, as I say, this is not a review, this is more of a plea. Several of these relatively early titles by RR remain stubbornly out of print, impossible to acquire. To Fear A Painted Devil and Vanity Dies Hard are two more examples. All excellent books, which seem to have been passed by by her publishers, randomhouse, left unacceptably out of print. This is quite clearly wrong, as this in particular is a fantastic book. If you are an ardent Rendell fan and can't get hold of these titles, email her publisher (the adress for emailing the sales department can be found on their site) without further ado! The more people who request info on out-of-print titles, the more likely it is that they will be reprinted. So, I urge you, get emailing in order that everyone will be able to experience the joys of every one of Rendell's works!
If you can manage to get hold of The Speaker of Mandarin these days, enjoy it. It's one fantastic crime novel, clever and unguessable, in a brilliant setting. In Rendell's canon, it is unique.
'Speaker of Mandarin' is a bit of a departure for both Rendell and Wexford as our well-read hero is off to China for the first part of the novel. Agatha Christie often set her novels in foreign parts and perhaps Rendell was bored writing about the English countryside and London (although both appear later on) and wanted to do something different. Reg has been abroad before of course but never to somewhere as different as eighties China! The first part of the novel then is largely a travelogue and Rendell's descriptive passages are colourful and evocative (and sometimes not very PC).
The murder doesn't get going until the second part and is loosely connected with the Chinese section. The real problem, for me, is that most of the book is one huge red herring. What some might regard as the 'twist' at the end feels like a cheat to me. Rendell pulls her familiar trick of spending very little time with the murderer so that we hardly know them and then pulling him/her out of the hat at the very end with a couple of clues tacked on. In the meantime, Reg spends an inordinate amount of time trekking round London interviewing people who, in the end, don't really matter. It didn't help that the victim and her family are probably the least interesting so far in a Wexford novel - dull English upper middles! There are some good things, not least the original and engaging character of Miss Elf! Rendell novels are always worth reading and this is no exception but its by no means one of her best.
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