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This particular Rendell mystery I guess will be much better if it’s not the second Chief Inspector Wexford book.  The story is about a sixteen year old brutal and vicious crime of an old woman whose battered to death with an axe by her helper. Harry Painter is hung for it and Chief Inspector Wexford is certain that they executed the right man. If one is not familiar with Rendell’s whydunits instead of the typical whodunit, readers might be disappointed to learn the identity of the killer which is revealed even at the back cover of the book. Readers might occasionally ask, what’s the point in reading?

As the Inspector being certain that they hung the right man for his crime, a Reverend suddenly appears unto the scene only to question the killer’s execution. For Reverend Archery’s son wants to marry the murderer’s beautiful and brilliant daughter. Desperate to find if murder breeds murder and whether his son is in jeopardy for his own decision.

As the case being sixteen years ago, Wexford is stubborn to take part on the Reverend’s investigation. With a second novel about Wexford, a reader is much interested to know more about his character but as his decision not to take part with the Reverend’s acquisition make the novel more about the minor character than much of Wexford himself. This is also one of her books that make me stop suddenly from further reading at the middle of the night, not because I find it getting boring but what I’ve read is creepy enough for me to continue and putting me to sleep will be a difficult task. To top it of, Rendell’s chilling prose here is top-notched even though this is one of her earlier works. The novel is formerly titled as A New Lease of Death and together with its current title, both just justifies the theme of the story.

It is still a good read especially coming from my favorite author although I didn’t really enjoy this one. As I’ve suggested before, try to read her latest works before consuming this particular title. Doing this might make you appreciate her body of work like I do.

Opening Sentence: It was five in the morning.

Ending Sentence: We must go soon,’ he said to his own. ‘It’s time we shared all this with your mother.’