I enjoyed this book but it didn’t seem too different from the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, except for way better editing. There is the relatively well-adjusted Inspector (in this case, a family man who is even a grandfather), without an alcohol problem (although he likes a glass of red wine now and then), assisted by a number of detective constables of various races and genders, including a black male who disconcerts witnesses, and a white female who struggles with a weight problem. There is a lot of attention to detail, from the furnishings of houses they visit, to the coffee and/or tea they are offered by those they question, and to the meals they have.
Rendell, who is a member of the House of Lords in real life, devotes a bit more time than Elizabeth George to social and political issues, but not so much as to be off-putting about it.
The crime involves two skeletons discovered on unused property in rural Flagford, England, with the suspects primarily being the people living on its perimeter. As the story unfolds, the identity of the killers and motive for the crime became apparent even to me – among the most dense of readers – but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the process.
Evaluation: This book is a typical example of a British crime detective novel, and provides a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. The author is very popular and has won a number of awards from crime and mystery writer associations.
Note: This is apparently the 23rd book in the series featuring Chief Inspector Wexford, but I had no trouble whatsoever following the plot.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., 2007