No Man's Nightingale: (A Wexford Case)

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9780091953850: No Man's Nightingale: (A Wexford Case)

INCLUDES AN EXCERPT OF RENDELL’S FINAL NOVEL, DARK CORNERS

From “one of the most remarkable novelists of her generation” (People) a “refined, probing, and intelligent” (USA TODAY) mystery in the masterful Inspector Wexford series...more enthralling than ever after fifty years.

A female vicar named Sarah Hussein is discovered strangled in her Kingsmarkham vicarage. A single mother to a teenage girl, Hussein was working in a male-dominated profession. Moreover, she was of mixed race and wanted to modernize the church. Could racism or sexism have played a factor in her murder?

Maxine, the gossipy cleaning woman who discovered the body, happens to also be in the employ of retired Chief Inspector Wexford and his wife. Wexford is intrigued by the unusual circumstances of the murder, and when he is invited by his old deputy to tag along with the investigators, he leaps at the chance.

As Wexford searches the Vicar’s house, he sees a book on her bedside table. Inside the book is a letter serving as a bookmark. Without thinking much, Wexford puts it into his pocket. Wexford soon realizes he has made a grave error in removing a piece of valuable evidence from the scene without telling anybody. Yet what he finds inside begins to illuminate the murky past of Sarah Hussein. Is there more to her than meets the eye?

No Man’s Nightingale is Ruth Rendell’s masterful twenty-fourth installment in one of the great crime series of all time, an “absorbing and rewarding” (Seattle Times) mystery that explores issues of sexism, class, and racism. As Stephen King said: “No one surpasses Ruth Rendell.”

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About the Author:

Ruth Rendell (1930–2015) won three Edgar Awards, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writ­ers’ Association. Her remarkable career spanned a half century, with more than sixty books published. A member of the House of Lords, she was one of the great literary figures of our time.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

No Man’s Nightingale 1


MAXINE WAS PROUD of having three jobs. These days more and more people had none. She had no sympathy for them but congratulated herself on her own initiative. Two mornings a week she cleaned for Mrs. Wexford, two mornings for Mrs. Crocker, afternoons for two other Kingsmarkham women, did gardening and cleaned cars for Mr. Wexford and Dr. Crocker and babysat every evening where she was wanted for those young enough to need a baby-sitter. Cleaning she did for the women and gardening and car-washing for the men because she had never believed in any of that feminism or equality stuff. It was a well-known fact that men didn’t notice whether a house was clean or not, and normal women weren’t interested in cars or lawns. Maxine charged maximum rates for baby-sitting except for her son and his partner, who got her services for free. As for the others, those who had kids must expect to pay for them. She’d had four and she knew.

She was a good worker, reliable, punctual, and reasonably honest, and the only condition she made was payment in cash. Wexford, who after all had until recently been a policeman, demurred at that but eventually gave in the way the tax inspector up the road did. After all, at least a dozen other households would have paid almost anything to secure Maxine’s services. She had one drawback. She talked. She talked not just while she was having a break for a cup of tea or while she was getting out or putting away the tools, but all the time she was working and to whoever happened to be in the room or upstairs in the kitchen. The work got done and efficiently while the words poured out on a steady monotone.

That day she began on a story of how her son Jason, now manager of the Kingsmarkham Questo supermarket, had dealt with a man complaining about one of Jason’s checkout girls. The woman had apparently called him “elderly.” But Jason had handled it brilliantly, pacifying the man and sending him home in a supervisor’s car. “Now my Jason used to be a right tearaway,” Maxine went on, and not for the first time. “Not in one of them gangs, I’m not saying that, and he never got no ASBOs, but a bit of shoplifting, it was like it came natural to him, and out all night and underage drinking—well, binge-drinking like they call it. As for the smack and what do they call them, description drugs—mind Mr. Wexford can’t hear me, hope he’s out of hearshot—all that he went in for, and now, since him and Nicky had a kid, he’s a changed character. The perfect dad, I still can’t believe it.” She applied impregnated wadding to the silver with renewed vigour, then a duster, then the wadding once more. “She’s over a year old now, his Isabella is, but when she was a neo-nettle, it was never Nicky got up to her in the night, she never had to. No, it was my Jason had her out of her cot before the first peep was out of her. Walked her up and down, cooing at her like I’ve never heard a bloke go on so. Mind you, that Nicky never showed no gratitude. I call it unnatural a mum with a new baby sleeping the night through, and I’ve told her so.”

Even Maxine sometimes had to pause to draw breath. Dora Wexford seized her opportunity, said she had to go out and Maxine’s money was in an envelope on the hall table. The resumed monologue pursued her as she ran out to the conservatory to tell her husband she’d be back in an hour or so.

Wexford was sitting in a cane armchair in autumn sunshine doing what many a man or woman plans to do on retirement but few put into practice, reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He had embarked on it expecting to find it heavy going, but instead becoming fast enraptured and enjoying every word. Reaching the end of the first volume, he was happy to anticipate five more and told Dora she’d picked her moment to desert him.

“It’s your turn,” she whispered.

“I didn’t know we had a schedule.”

“You know now. Here starts your tour of duty.”

As Dora left, Maxine swooped, pushing the vacuum cleaner and continuing to hold on to it while she peered over his shoulder.

“Got a guide to Rome there, I see. Going there on your holidays, are you? Me and my sister took in Rome on our Ten Italian Cities tour. Oh, it was lovely but hot, you wouldn’t believe. I said to my Jason, you and Nicky want to go there on your honeymoon when you get around to tying the knot there’s no untying, only these days there is of course, no point in getting married if you ask me. I never did and I’m not ashamed of it.” She started up the vacuum cleaner but continued to talk. “It’s Nicky as wants it, one of them big white weddings like they all want these days, costs thousands, but she’s a big spender, good job my Jason’s in work like so many’s not.” The voice became a buzz under the vacuum’s roar. She raised it. “I don’t reckon my Jason’d go away on a honeymoon or anything else come to that without Isabella. He can’t bear that kid out of his sight for his eight hours’ work let alone a week. Talk about worshipping the ground she treads on, only she don’t tread yet, crawls more like.” A pause to change the tool on the end of the vacuum-cleaner hose. “You’ll know about that poor lady vicar getting herself killed and me finding the body. It was all over the papers and on the telly. I reckon you take an interest though you’re not doing the work no more. I had a cleaning job there with her up till a couple of weeks back, but there was things we never saw eye to eye on, not to mention her not wanting to pay cash, wanted to do it on line if you please and I couldn’t be doing with that. She always left the back door open and I popped in to collect the money she owed me and it gave me a terrible turn. No blood, of course, not with strangling, but still a shock. Don’t bear thinking of, does it? Still, I reckon you had to think of things like that, it being your job. You must be relieved getting all that over with . . .”

Standing up, clutching his book, “I’m going to have a bath!” Wexford shouted above the vacuum’s roar.

Maxine was startled from her monologue. “It’s ten thirty.”

“A very good time to have a bath,” said Wexford, making for the stairs, reading as he went the last lines of volume one, describing another murder, that of Julius Caesar: . . . during the greatest part of a year, the orb of the sun appeared pale and without splendour. This season of obscurity, which cannot surely be compared with the preternatural obscurity of the Passion, had already been celebrated by most of the poets and historians of that memorable age. . . .

His mobile was ringing. Detective Superintendent Burden, known to the phone-contacts list as Mike.

“I’m off to have a look at St. Peter’s Vicarage, taking Lynn with me and I thought you might like to come too.”

Wexford had already had a shower that day. A bath at 10:30 a.m. wasn’t needful, only seized upon as a refuge from Maxine. “I’d love to.” He tried to keep the enthusiasm out of his voice, tried and failed.

Sounding surprised, Burden said, “Don’t get excited. It’s no big deal.”

“It is for me.”

He closed the bathroom door. Probably, Maxine wouldn’t open it but would perhaps conclude that he was having an exceptionally long bath. The vacuum cleaner still roaring, he escaped out the front door, closing it after him by an almost silent turning of the key in the lock. Taking an interested member of the public—that, after all, was what he was—on a call or calls that were part of a criminal investigation was something Wexford had seldom done while he was himself an investigating officer. And his accompanying Superintendent Ede of the Met on the vault enquiries was a different matter as he, though unpaid, had had a kind of job as Ede’s aide. This visit, this opportune escape from Maxine, was undergone, he knew, because, once senior and junior officers, over the years they had become friends. Burden knew, none better, how much Wexford would wish to be involved in solving the mystery of who had killed the Reverend Sarah Hussain.



ALL WEXFORD KNEW of the death, apart from what Maxine had mentioned that morning, was what he had read in yesterday’s Guardian and seen on the day-before-yesterday’s regional television news. And seen of course when passing the vicarage. He could have seen more online, but he had cringed from its colourful headlines. Sarah Hussain was far from being the only woman ordained priest of the Church of England, but perhaps she was the only one to have been born in the United Kingdom of a white Irishwoman and an Indian immigrant. All this had been in the newspaper along with some limited biographical details, including information about her conversion to Christianity. There had been a photograph too of a gaunt woman with an aquiline nose in an academic cap and gown, olive-skinned but with large, deep-set, black eyes and what hair that showed a glossy jet-black. She had been forty-eight when she died and a single mother.

Her origins, her looks—striking but not handsome—her age, her single parenthood, and, above all, that conversion made him think that her life could not have been easy. He would have liked to know more, and no doubt, he soon would. At the moment he wasn’t even sure of where t...

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. No Man s Nightingale: the eagerly anticipated twenty-fourth title in Ruth Rendell s bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage - a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter s Church. But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage. A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He has little patience with Maxine s prattle. But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information. The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work. For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. Bookseller Inventory # AAO9780091953850

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. No Man s Nightingale: the eagerly anticipated twenty-fourth title in Ruth Rendell s bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage - a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter s Church. But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage. A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He has little patience with Maxine s prattle. But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information. The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work. For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. Bookseller Inventory # AAO9780091953850

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Book Description Random House UK Ltd Aug 2013, 2013. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - No Man's Nightingale : the eagerly anticipated twenty-fourth title in Ruth Rendell's bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage - a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter's Church. But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage. A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire . He has little patience with Maxine's prattle. But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information. The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work. For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. 280 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780091953850

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Book Description Random House UK Ltd Aug 2013, 2013. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - No Man's Nightingale : the eagerly anticipated twenty-fourth title in Ruth Rendell's bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage - a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter's Church. But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage. A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire . He has little patience with Maxine's prattle. But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information. The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work. For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. 280 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780091953850

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Book Description Random House UK Ltd Aug 2013, 2013. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - No Man's Nightingale : the eagerly anticipated twenty-fourth title in Ruth Rendell's bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage - a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter's Church. But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage. A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire . He has little patience with Maxine's prattle. But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information. The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work. For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. 280 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780091953850

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Book Description Random House UK Ltd Aug 2013, 2013. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - No Man's Nightingale : the eagerly anticipated twenty-fourth title in Ruth Rendell's bestselling Detective Chief Inspector Wexford series. Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage - a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter's Church. But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage. A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire . He has little patience with Maxine's prattle. But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information. The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work. For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. 280 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780091953850

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