some lie and some die

Last week I talked about some new-to-me authors that I really enjoyed in 2012. If I had finished Some Lie and Some Die by Ruth Rendell before I made that list, she would definitely have been on it. I read my first book by her, A New Lease of Death, earlier this year, but was a little disappointed in it, mostly because her series character, Chief Inspector Wexford, only played a minor part in it. This was definitely a more fulfilling mystery, although I have the feeling it’s still not her best.

Some Lie and Some Die was first published in 1973 and revolves around a rock festival and one of its headliners, so some of the “hip” language is dated, but the concepts and insights aren’t. Just as the festival is beginning to break up and folks are starting to head in their various directions, a woman’s body is found in a nearby quarry. Contrary to the initial speculation, she is a local woman and was dead days before the festival started. She has links to one of the festival headliners though, a charismatic singer who inspires fierce devotion from his fans. As Inspector Wexford investigates, the connections between the past and the present become clearer, even as the dead woman’s life seems to become less relevant. “‘There must be many murder victims,’ Chief Inspector Wexford said slowly, ‘who meet their deaths without knowing in the least why they are to die.'”

I listened to the audio version and the narrator, Nigel Anthony, really brought Wexford to life for me. He’s a bit gruff, but introspective and willing to understand that not everyone sees the world through the same lens as he does. He doesn’t go on about that music and those kids, and instead is willing to listen, even if it’s not to his particular taste. I guess he’s tolerant and more liberal than his position would suggest. He’s a strong, interesting character to build the series around.

In this particular entry, some of the other characters, like the rock star, Zeno Vedast, and his flunkies are disturbing. I found Wexford’s way of looking at the whole situation, the ins and outs of people’s relationships, their secrets and their desires, rather than just the blood spot on the wall remarkable. However, I think the revealing of the killer was a little disappointing. It’s a fairly short book and the killer is not truly the bad guy, but I just don’t think we were given enough insight into his thought-process to make the killing believable. That being said the story was engrossing and certainly kept my attentions, leaving me walking around the house listening to the story even when I probably should have been actually interacting with my family.

I’ll definitely be reading more in this series. This was the 8th although only the second I’ve listened to. I don’t feel like I missed much by not reading them in order. I felt like Rendell gave me enough information about Wexford and his assistant Burden to make me understand them without hitting me over the head with too much backstory.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

Chief Inspector Wexford #8
First published 1973
6 hours 9 minutes
Narrated by Nigel Anthony

Book source: Library

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. Means of Evil and Other Stories
  12. Put on by Cunning (apa: Death Notes)
  13. The Speaker of Mandarin
  14. An Unkindness of Ravens
  15. The Veiled One
  16. Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter
  17. Simisola
  18. Road Rage
  19. Harm Done
  20. The Babes in the Wood
  21. End in Tears
  22. Not in the Flesh
  23. The Monster in the Box
  24. The  Vault


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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