Series to savour 1 – Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford mysteries

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell  1930-2015

The late Ruth Rendell has long been one of my all-time favorite mystery novelists.  Her characterization coupled with intricate plotting and ingenious crimes ensure that her novels will be savored by readers.  It is for this reason that I have decided to pay tribute to Ruth Rendell in my first in a series of blog posts on mystery series that I enjoyed enough that, given the time, I would joyfully read AGAIN.

Ruth Rendell is the queen of the ‘whydunnit‘ as opposed to the ‘whodunnit’.

The Inspector Wexford stories are an excellent example of quintessential British police procedural mysteries.  Set in the fictional town of Kingsmarkham, in Sussex, England, these fine novels feature Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, his Detective Inspector, Mike Burden, and Wexford’s long-suffering wife Dora, and two daughters, Sheila (his favorite) and Sylvia (who lives with an enormous chip on her shoulder when it comes to her father).

The somewhat curmudgeonly Reginald Wexford is in his early fifties when we first meet him in “From Doon with Death“. Keenly intelligent, he is an avid reader and he utilizes his imagination and sensitivity when solving crimes.  Rendell describes him as “a big, ugly man”. He is a master of the study of human behavior and displays a keen psychological insight in his work.  His second in command, Mike Burden is resourceful, respectful, and above all…patient.

There are 24 full-length novels in the Wexford mystery series. There are also many short stories featuring brief Wexford cases in several of Rendell’s anthologies.  Anyone who has yet to read this wonderful series is indeed ‘in for a treat’!wexford-mystery-series

#1. From Doon with death
#2 A new lease of death (also published under the title “Sins of the fathers”
#3. Wolf to the slaughter
#4. The best man to die
#5. A guilty thing surprised
#6. No more dying then
#7. Murder being once done
#8. Some lie and some die
#9. Shake hands forever
#10. A sleeping life
#11. Put on by cunning (also published under the title “Death notes”)
#12. The speaker of Mandarin
#13. An unkindness of ravens
#14. The veiled one
#15. Kissing the gunner’s daughter
#16. Simisola
#17. Road rage
#18. Harm done
#19. The babes in the wood
#20. End in tears
#21. Not in the flesh
#22. The monster in the box
#23. The vault
#24. No man’s nightingale
Means of evil and other stories (short stories featuring Wexford)

The Wexford mysteries were adapted for television with the late George Baker in the title role and Christopher Ravenscroft playing the part of DI Mike Burden.

George Baker (Wexford) and Christopher Ravenscroft (Burden)

George Baker (Wexford) and Christopher Ravenscroft (Burden)

Ruth Rendell wrote myriad mysteries under her own name, and many dark, psychological thrillers under her pseudonym of Barbara Vine.

She was a good friend of the late P.D. James (another of my favorites).

Ruth Rendell with P.D. James

Ruth Rendell with P.D. James

They died just months apart…

I like to think they are somewhere chatting about fictional crimes over a cup of tea.197540-1920x1200

Two of my favourite Ruth Rendell novels were not part of the fabulous Wexford series.
Tree of hands” / Ruth Rendell
The Brimstone Wedding” / Barbara Vine

Ruth Rendell’s obituary

Ruth Rendell in quotes

Ruth Rendell Facebook Fan Page

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Mystery fiction, Series order, series to savour, Suspense and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Series to savour 1 – Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford mysteries

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on writing, from author Ruth Rendell |

  2. Pingback: My personal canon (the books that shaped my life) | Fictionophile

  3. gkdewolfe says:

    Lynne, I have always been delighted you introduced me to Ruth Rendell and Inspector Wexford…..every book Ruth wrote was a gem. She also surpassed most authors too when she
    wrote under Barbara Vine. Actually, it would be a pleasure to read them all again!!


  4. Hi Lynne,

    One of my favourite authors, although I have by no means read all the books in the series.

    Wexford is just one of the best detectives and George Baker was so well cast to portray him in the television series, which I watched avidly. I will still watch the re-runs when they are shown, if I can sneak the remote away from hubbie 🙂

    Thanks for the feature, I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane.



  5. Christine says:

    Fab post, Lynne. And the obit was so interesting as well. I am one of those lucky ones who has not yet read this author. I also want to check out her Vine books.


    • Fictionophile says:

      Two of my favourite books of hers that were not part of the Wexford series were: “The tree of hands” and under her pseudonym, “The Brimstone Wedding”.


  6. carhicks says:

    I need to stop reading all these blogs. This series sounds wonderful. I will need to check it out and more to Mount TBR.


  7. I love this post ❤️ Ruth Rendell’s ‘A Judgement in Stone’ is one of my favourite books of all time.


    • skyecaitlin says:

      Keeper of Pages, thank you and this one goes RIGHT on my TBR list; I always liked when she wrote under ‘Barbara Vine.’ Thanks you so much~


  8. skyecaitlin says:

    Lynne: my twin: of course you know I will keep this list. Thank you~


  9. mhmcneill says:

    This sounds like a good series. I’ve developed a deeper interest in the genre lately so I’ll try to check it out at some point. Thanks for the recommendation!


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