Murder being once done

Title: Murder Being Once Done (Inspector Wexford #7)

Author: Ruth Rendell

Published: 1972

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

Rating: 3½ out of 5

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Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

On doctor’s orders, Wexford is supposed to be resting. But he can’t resist taking a peek into the investigation of a macabre crime.

In a vast, gloomy, overgrown London cemetery, a girl is found murdered. A girl with a name that isn’t here, and little else that is. A girl with no friends, no possessions and no past.

Chief Inspector Wexford has been sent to London by his doctor for a rest — no late nights, no rich food, no alcohol, and above all, no criminal investigation. To add insult to injury, it is Wexford’s own nephew, Howard, who is leading the investigation into the macabre mystery. And even though Howard and his subordinates might think he’s out of his league, and even though his doctor wouldn’t approve, Wexford can’t resist just taking a look at things for himself.

I love Rendell’s titles. Murder Being Once Done sounds so sober, implies that the murder is not the end, that there are consequences, that actions follow.

Wexford is not one for forced inactivity. All the sympathy and strict meals and the feeling of being overly watched by his wife and his nephew’s wife is too much. After some misunderstanding, Howard invites him into the investigation fo the murder of a young woman whose body is found in a cemetery vault. Wexford is out of his comfort zone and still feeling a little shook up by his recent medical issue. He’s not as sure of himself here as he usually is, not as confident. And he’s not treated with the same deference he is in his own town. It’s a different look at the detective, but in the end after a misstep or two, his intuition and perseverance get them to the killer, even though it’s a twisty road.

If I have one complaint about this book, it’s the identity of the killer. In most mysteries, the killer is one of the at least semi-major characters. Here’s that’s not so much the case. On the other hand, there are plenty of suspects and at least one with a reasonable motive and I really thought I knew who the killer was, until I was totally wrong.

I listen to this on audio and the narrator, Robin Bailey, does a good job. I enjoy listening, and I think I would also enjoy reading them in print. I like the descriptions and just her writing style in general.

This book also deals some with the adoption process in London in the 70s. I think that this time around the commentary on current social issues worked well within the story. It was a sidelight, and didn’t overwhelm the plot or the investigation.

Chief Inspector Wexford Series

  1. From Doon with Death
  2. A New Lease of Death (apa: 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 (apa: 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

Short Stories

  • Means of Evil and Other Stories

Challenge: WAYR

About Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (February 17, 1930 – May 2, 2015) was an English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries.

Rendell’s best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, was the hero of many popular police stories, some of them successfully adapted for TV. But Rendell also generated a separate brand of crime fiction that deeply explored the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. This theme was developed further in a third series of novels, written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine.


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