Searching for truffles in a wood, a man and his dog unearth something less savoury - a human hand. The body, as Chief Inspector Wexford is informed later, has lain buried for ten years or so, wrapped in a purple cotton sheet. The post mortem can not reveal the precise cause of death. The only clue is a crack in one of the dead man's ribs. Although it covers a relatively short period of time, the police computer stores a long list of missing persons. Men, women and children disappear at an alarming rate, something like 500 every day nationwide. So Wexford knows he is going to have a job on his hands to identify the corpse. And then, only about twenty yards away from the woodland burial site, in the cellar of a disused cottage, another body is found. The detection skills of Wexford, Burden and the other investigating officers of the Kingsmarkham Police Force are tested to the utmost to discover whether the murders are connected and to track down whoever is responsible.
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The wait is over: hereís a new Wexford novel. And Not in the Flesh is one of the sharpest, most astringent outings for Ruth Rendellís doughty copper in some time. Rendell's studies in dark psychology (which have at their centre characters who appear only in individual novels) are the most highly regarded among aficionados of her wok, but the unalloyed good feeling prompted by a fresh appearance for her long-term protagonist Inspector Wexford is something to be savoured, and we are once again in safe hands here.
A man taking his dog for a walk in a wooded area stumbles across a grim object -- a severed human hand. The body to which it belongs has been hidden from sight for years, as Wexford subsequently finds out. Of course, with the uncountable numbers of missing persons in police files, Wexford is well aware it will be an uphill struggle tracking down the identity of the body. Shortly after, in the basement of a disused cottage, another victim of violence is discovered, and Wexford and his reliable team find themselves attempting to discover connections between the murders.
Readers might wonder if the production of these utterly surefire Wexford books is an east task for Rendell (as opposed to the rigours of the grimmer psychological novels written under her own name, or the nom de plume Barbara Vine), but there's never a sense of the author on autopilot; this is professional, well-honed, engrossing stuff. --Barry ForshawReview:
"Christopher Ravenscroft's reading gives it all a strong whiff of Ambridge, but as the murder investigation unfolds, he cleverly ratchets up the tension." ( The Scotsman)
"While Ravenscroft's reassuring tones make him sound like a friendly uncle, the story he is telling is not quite so comforting." ( FT Magazine)
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Book Description Hutchinson, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0091920604