[Ruth Rendell] From Doon with Death

  • Title: From Doon with Death
  • Author: Ruth Rendell
  • Published: 1964
  • Book: Wexford an Omnibus (1987)
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press / Arrow books
  • ISBN: 0 09 956640 0

You have broken my heart. There, I have written it. Nor for you to read, Minna, for this letter will never be sent, never shrink and wither under your laughter, little lips prim and pleated, laughter…. This is the rose-red blood of the troubadour!

from the book

From Doon with Death” is the first novel of Ruth Rendell, published in 1964. It is also the first book of her popular character, Inspector Wexford.

As you already know, or you can guess by reading her books, Ruth Rendell is highly influenced by Agatha Christie. It is not just a surface-level similarity such as mystery genre and a combo character (Holmes and Watson, Poirot and Hastings, and Wexford and Burden). Rendell’s books are about human psychology rather than the story of murder, like the writings of A. Christie. A criminal case is a medium to show how people associate with each other.

At the same time, there are definite distinctions between Christie and Rendell. A. Christie’s characters are more generalized and stereotyped so that you can recognize the corresponding images despite the gaps of many years – As Miss Marple always does -. You can find definite morality and evil. Rendell’s characters can be our neighbors with the dubious inner state. They are ordinary people and act like what they are supposed to do most of the time. They are neither evil nor good. With a slight twist of an event or a bad decision at one moment, the life of a person can be changed dramatically. Or a character might go too extreme without contemplating.

You might find it harder to read Rendell’s books than A. Christie’s because Rendell’s books have more detailed descriptions around people, which might not seem directly linked to a murder case. I recommend starting with the “Wexford” series, which is easy to read and has all Rendell’s charms at the same time, and move on to her other books.

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