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The Babes In The Wood (2004)

The Babes in the Wood (2004)
Author
Rating
3.73 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
1400034191 (ISBN13: 9781400034192)
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English
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publisher
vintage
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The Babes In The Wood (2004)
The Babes In The Wood (2004)

About book: Wexford is getting to be an old fogey, needing help from his younger associates to decipher the slang of teenage witnesses. Two teens and their sitter go missing just before Christmas one very rainy winter in Kingsmarkham. Few clues arise easily, the case drags on, Wexford's divorced daughter has a new beau, whom Wexford dislikes (he's a thick-headed bore with no sense of humor). A businessman with a preening trophy wife finds an abandoned car on his estate, sees a body in it, but said preening wife talks him out of reporting it, because to do so would inconvenience them, what with holiday parties and all. It is the sitter, of course, and the kids remain missing. It turns out that the boy was involved with a sex-obsessed religious cult, was being seduced by the sitter, and felt guilty about it, confessed it, and the church banded together to rid the world of the hussy. Or something like that. The crime, such as it was, was explained by Wexford to his underling over lunch after the fact. Much too much Agatha Christy-like for my tastes. And the psychological explanation of the sitter's interest in teen boys was rather too pat as well. Read as a recorded book, very well read by john Lee, I think, who had a wonderful range of voices that fit the characters perfectly. I thought it was rather slow moving, and the sub-stories of Wexford's daughter and his worries about his garden flooding were draggy as well.This was the 19th in the series. If I o at Wexford again, I will go back earlier to see what if he was always as stodgy as he is here.

This book had potential, but as the plot unfolded, I found it more and more tedious. There were so many cliches it became rather laughable at times: women-hating religious fanatics, repressed spinsters, nagging women, drunken aristocrats. There was even an absent-minded professor, though the author tried to excuse it by pointing out that the character was a cliche. Wouldn't it be better to avoid such cliches altogether? Overall, the mystery was fairly well laid out and I had a good idea of who the culprit was, but by the time we got to the reveal (which involved way too much exposition), I didn't much care. One aspect of the plot I found bewildering, though, was an episode of (view spoiler)[domestic violence. The man beats his partner bloody, binds her, and locks her in a closet. She has a phone in her pocket, so she's able to call the police. But when they arrive, they free her, and then do nothing to the man. What?! Do they not have laws against domestic violence in Great Britain? I found it beyond appalling--bewildering, even--that nothing happened to the man. Perhaps there was an explanation and I missed it, but I don't think so. (hide spoiler)]
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Reviews
Elizabeth
Ilze wrote: "Why read another Rendell when this was as bland as the food in an orphanage?"I've heard she is a good author, so I decided to give her another try. The Rottweiler is better--a little faster paced, but still mostly predictable. I probably won't read any more of hers. Ilze, I really liked your comparison!!
Vastine Stabler
(SPOILERS) An unfortunate misstep for the usually reliable Ruth Rendell. The book is filled with uninteresting subplots (especially one about a wealthy alcoholic and his narcissistic model wife) that constantly undermine the flow of the story. Like so many European crime novels, the story includes the usual religious boogiemen without even a hint of nuance. The solution largely comes via a plot device not the investigation we have been following(though to be fair to Rendell, pieces of the investigation help illuminate to the solution but they were not really the vehicle to its discovery.) And after that event, when the plot finally starts to move with a little passion, we are treated to a trip to Sweden complete with travel suggestions that kills all of the momentum. Finally, the explanation of the crime comes not through plot but by an unnecessarily long-winded and sometimes silly explanation from Wexford to his partner. When his partner kept asking Wexford to get to the point I shared his frustration. Rendell is a great writer and I will happily continue to read her books but my advice is to take a miss on this one.
Margaret
Ruth Rendell is always good value. But this is even better value than most. Life isn't good anywhere in Inspector Wexford's community as the book begins: the area is dangerously flooded and the rain continues. Two teenagers and their 'babysitter' disappear when their parents are away for the weekend. Did they drown in the floods? Then the babysitter's dead body is found - some 3 months after the event. The landowner on whose property the decomposed crpse is found had actaully sen it significantly earlier. He's in trouble, his marriage is in trouble, the teenagers' parents marriage is in trouble. Wexford's daughter's marriage is also in trouble - unrelated to the deaths it's true.Rendell plays with all these ravelled threads with her usual skill. The daily dramas of family and workplace life are interwoven with the increasingly complex threads of the plot, and right until the end, no resolution seems possible. But this is a murder mystery, so in the end the perpetrator is found. The identity may surprise you.
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