2009: 120. Simisola

“There were four people besides himself in the waiting room and none of them looked ill.”

Simisola, Ruth Rendell

     Sometimes (especially lately) the Wexford mysteries tend to have an issue - there was the environmental one, the domestic violence one, the one about surrogates and infertility - and this is is the racism one.  The daughter of a local doctor goes missing - and she also happens to be one of the few black people in town.  Wexford is put on the case, and quickly realizes that despite his general liberalism, he’s as guilty of casual racism as anyone else.  This becomes a problem when he finds a corpse and assumes that it’s the doctor’s daughter - only to have the parents visit the body and find it’s a completely different woman.  Now he has a murder and a disappearance, and one of his most confusing crimes.

     I really enjoyed this - what could have been a preachy subject matter is handled thoughtfully - and the scene where Wexford brings the parents in to see the wrong body is particularly powerful.  The ending of the novel is heartbreaking, too.  In fact, this is one of my favorite Wexford novels.

Date/Place Completed: September 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017