It’s a Mystery: The Babes in the Wood, by Ruth Rendell

The Babes in the WoodBeneath the surface

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s raining in Kingsmarkham. And raining. And raining. There’s flooding in the town, close to the home of Inspector Wexford, who is worried about his adult daughter, a divorcee with appalling taste in men, as well about his house. In the midst of the deluge, a teenage brother and sister vanish, along with the woman who has been staying with them during their parents weekend away. Wexford sees no real evidence of foul play, but is uneasy anyway. When the woman’s car is spotted in a shallow gorge, with her body inside, he grows seriously more concerned.

As always in this series, Kingsmarkham on the surface is deceptively peaceful, and during the investigation, some surprising undercurrents bubble up. Children and parents who hate each, an evangelic church group, and the ugliness of pedophilia all have their role to play in the unraveling of this mystery. Rendell is a fine writer who consistently offers well structured plots and wholly believable characters. Wexford himself is one of the last of a dying breed, the devoted public servant working from a moral sense undiluted by the flash and trash of modern society.

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