It is so hard to write a review of a book I didn’t quite like. I’m still going strong for Cannonball Read though and should probably persevere. I picked up The Vault by Ruth Rendell randomly one day thinking it looked good from the cover and the jacket description. I know nothing about Ruth Rendell other than she writes popular mystery novels and is very British. From the sound of the descriptions her other novels might suit my tastes more (i.e., “dark and twisty”).
A rich, bratty couple renovating their fancy cottage in London discovers three bodies hidden in a small vault under their house. The “vault” is an unfinished basement that at some point was walled-over. Inspector Wexford is a retired detective who is asked to assist in figuring out this mystery. I was never entirely clear why he was involved as a civilian. Maybe because novelists seem to enjoy resurrecting their retired detectives for a final go. He helps by interviewing random people with minimal connections to the case and through his hard thinking and jaunts across London suddenly all becomes clear.
Wexford at one point describes his irritatingly immature daughter this way: “She made exasperation noises, sighs, and the kind of sound that accompanies the casting up of eyes.” This could have easily described me as a reader unfortunately. Wexford uses strange leaps of logic to connect pieces of evidence that serve the goal of the book well (solve the mystery), but don’t ring true to this reader. For example, when they find a piece of paper with a French word and the name Francine they start looking for all the French-speaking women in London named Francine of a possible age range! Really?!? The London police have enough time on their hands to go after this random goose-chase, especially for people who have been dead for two or more years? At one point even Detective Superintendent Thomas Ede, the officer who reached out to Wexford, seems to tire of these random attempts to piece together a puzzle. In the end Wexford wins, but like his daughter, I just truly couldn’t care.
The only bright point for me was the description of London. Rendell goes to great lengths to describe the neighborhoods in which Wexford travels. A fan might find it fun to travel Wexford’s path.
Not my mystery novel. Might be yours. Check out Wallander first.