Some literary cops worked for a very long time, Inspector Wexford is definitely one of them.
Who is Inspector Wexford?
Published from 1964 to 2013, the Inspector Wexford mystery series is written by Ruth Rendell. As you may have guessed, it’s about the cases solved by Chief Inspector Reginald “Reg” Wexford in the fictional town of Kingsmarkham.
Played by George Baker in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries TV Show, the intelligent and sensitive DCI Wexford works with DI Mike Burden who’s also a friend of his.
Inspector Wexford Books in Order:
- From Doon With Death – There is nothing extraordinary about Margaret Parsons, a timid housewife in the town of Kingsmarkham. Except that Margaret Parsons is dead, brutally strangled, her body abandoned in the nearby woods. Who would kill someone with nothing to hide? Inspector Wexford feels baffled — until he discovers Margaret’s dark secret: a trove of rare books, each volume breathlessly inscribed by a passionate lover identified only as Doon.
- Sins of the fathers also known as A New Lease of Death – It was a brutal, vicious crime — sixteen years old. A helpless old woman battered to death with an axe. Harry Painter hung for it, and Chief Inspector Wexford is certain they executed the right man. But Reverend Archery has doubts…
- Wolf to the Slaughter – This anonymous room was better than a hotel. No register to sign, no questions asked, and for five bucks a man could have three hours of undisturbed, illicit lovemaking. Then one evening a man with a knife turned the love nest into a death chamber. The carpet was soaked with blood — but where was the corpse?
- The Best Man to Die – Who could have suspected that the exciting stag party for the groom would be a prelude to the murder of his close friend Charlie Hatton? But it was—and Charlie’s death sentence was only the first in a string of puzzling murders involving small-time gangsters, cheating husbands, and loose women.
- A Guilty Thing Surprised – Elizabeth and Quentin Nightingale. A happy couple who lived quite graciously at Myfleet Manor in the gentle English countryside. Elizabeth Nightingale found peace and tranquility on her nightly walks through the rich, dense forests surrounding Myfleet Manor. But the peace she treasured was shattered one night when she found death waiting in the woods.
- No More Dying Then – What kind of a person would kidnap two children? That is the question that haunts Wexford when a five-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl disappear from the village of Kingsmarkham. When a child’s body turns up at an abandoned country home one search turns into a murder investigation and the other turns into a race against time.
- Murder Being Once Done also known as Murder Being Done Once – A young girl is murdered in a cemetery. And Wexford’s doctor has prescribed no alcohol, no rich food and, above all, no police work. When a young girl’s body is found in a London cemetery and the local police, under the command of Wexford’s nephew, are baffled, Wexford decides to brave his doctor’s wrath and the condescension of the London police by doing a little investigating of his own.
- Some Lie and Some Die – A mutilated body found at a rock festival. In spite of dire predictions, the rock festival in Kingsmarkham seemed to be going off without a hitch, until the hideously disfigured body is discovered in a nearby quarry. And soon Wexford is investigating the links between a local girl gone bad and a charismatic singer who inspires an unwholesome devotion in his followers.
- Shake Hands Forever – The bed was neatly made, and the woman on top neatly strangled. According to all accounts, Angela Hathall was deeply in love with her husband and far too paranoid to invite an unknown person into their home. So who managed to gain entry and strangle her without a struggle? That is the problem facing Inspector Wexford.
- A Sleeping Life – Rhoda Comfrey’s death seemed unremarkable; the real mystery was her life. A wallet found in Comfrey’s handbag leads Inspector Wexford to Mr. Grenville West, a writer whose plots revel in the blood, thunder, and passion of dramas of old; whose current whereabouts are unclear; and whose curious secretary provides the Inspector with more questions than answers.
- Death Notes also known as Put on By Cunning – Sir Manuel Camargue, yesterday one of the most celebrated musicians of his time, today floats face down in the lake near his sprawling English country house. The consensus is accidental death — but Inspector Wexford knows the stench of murder most foul when he smells it.
- Speaker of Mandarin – Inspector Wexford is in China, visiting ancient tombs and palaces with a group of British tourists. After their return to England, one of his fellow tourists is found murdered. As he questions other members of the group, Wexford finds secrets of greed, treachery, theft, and adultery, leading the distressed inspector to ask not who is innocent, but who is least guilty…
- An Unkindness of Ravens – Rodney Williams’s disappearance seems typical to Chief Inspector Wexford — a simple case of a man running off with a woman other than his wife. But when another woman reports that her husband is missing, the case turns unpleasantly complex.
- The Veiled One – Who would garrote a middle-aged housewife and leave her body in the parking garage of a suburban shopping mall? Chief Inspector Wexford is no sooner on the case than a car bomb’s explosion lands him in the hospital. It’s now up to Mike Burden to step in and solve the case. He’s got a suspect … but will he be able to make him talk?
- Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter – The thirteenth of May is famously the unluckiest day of the year. Sergeant Caleb Martin of Kingsmarkham CID had no idea just how terminally unlucky it would prove, as he embarked upon his last day on earth… Ten months later, Wexford is confronted with a murder scene of horrific brutality. At first the bloodbath at Tancred House looks like the desperate work of a burglar panicked into murder.
- Simisola – In the quiet Sussex country town of Kingsmarkham, the daughter of Nigerian physician Raymond Akande is missing. “It’s probably nothing,” says Dr. Akande to his friend and client Chief Inspector Wexford, whose help he enlists.
- Road Rage – A by-pass is planned in the sleepy village of Kingsmarkham, a move that would destroy its peace and natural habitat forever. Wexford’s wife Dora joins the protest movement, but Wexford must be more circumspect. Trouble is expected. Before the protesters even have a chance to make their presence felt, the badly decomposed body of a young woman is discovered. Burden believes he knows the identity of the murderer, but Wexford is not convinced.
- Harm Done – Behind the picture-postcard façade of Kingsmarkham lies a community rife with violence, betrayal, and a taste for vengeance. When sixteen-year-old Lizzie Cromwell reappears no one knows where she has been, including Lizzie herself. Inspector Wexford thinks she was with a boyfriend. But the disappearance of a three-year-old girl casts a more ominous light on events.
- The Babes in the Wood – With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy.
- End in Tears – When Mavis Ambrose is killed by a falling chunk of concrete, the police have no reason to suspect mischief. However, the bludgeoning of the young and gorgeous Amber Marshalson that follows is clearly murder. In the midst of the hottest summer on record, Inspector Wexford is called in to investigate.
- Not in the Flesh – After a truffle-hunting dog unearths a human hand instead of a precious fungus, Chief Inspector Wexford and his team proceed to interrogate everyone who lives nearby to see if they can turn up a match for the errant appendage among the 85 people who have disappeared over the past decade in this part of England. Then, a second body is discovered nearby.
- The Monster in the Box – Inspector Wexford is back to his first murder case—a woman found strangled in her bedroom. Outside the crime scene, Wexford noticed a short, muscular man wearing a scarf and walking a dog. The man gave Wexford an unnerving stare. Without any solid evidence, Wexford began to suspect that this man—Eric Targo—was the killer. Over the years there are more unsolved, apparently motiveless murders in the town of Kingsmarkham. Now, half a lifetime later, Wexford spots Targo back in Kingsmarkham after a long absence.
- The Vault – Three bodies—two dead, one living—are entombed in an underground chamber beneath a picturesque London house. Twelve years later, the house’s new owner pulls back a manhole cover, and discovers the vault—and its grisly contents. Only now, the number of bodies is four. With their own detectives at an impasse, London police call on former Chief Inspector Wexford, now retired and living with his wife in London, to advise them.
- No Man’s Nightingale – A female vicar named Sarah Hussein is discovered strangled in her Kingsmarkham vicarage. A single mother to a teenage girl, Hussein was working in a male-dominated profession. Moreover, she was of mixed race and wanted to modernize the church. Could racism or sexism have played a factor in her murder? Maxine, the gossipy cleaning woman who discovered the body, happens to also be in the employ of retired Chief Inspector Wexford and his wife. Wexford is intrigued by the unusual circumstances of the murder.