2010: 44. Some Lie and Some Die

“But why here? Why do they have to come here?”

Some Lie and Some Die, Ruth Rendell

       This is a bit of a milestone, in that I’ve now read all of Rendell’s Wexford mysteries (well, unless she writes more, though it seemed from the last one I read that she was, perhaps, putting Wexford to bed).  It’s sort of a shame, because I generally prefer the Wexfords to the stand alones.  Well, let me be precise - I think her stand-alone novels are better novels, particularly lately, but they also tend to be more grim, while the Wexford novels have more of a glimmer of humanity to them.  I think that by the very nature of being more classic detective novels, with a crime solver rather than an omnipotent narrator, the Wexford books at least suggest there might be a benevolence to the universe, while her stand alone novels seem firmly in the camp of life has no meaning other to be nasty, brutish, and short.  Which might be true, but half the fun of reading detective fiction is to bring order to chaos, so there is something comforting about the Wexford books that the stand-alones generally lack.

      Now, to come to this actual book, I have to concede that it’s not one of her best.  There’s no question that Rendell came into her own as a writer in the period after this one was written.  While the premise of the murder itself is quite good, her writing skills weren’t quite up to pulling it off, particularly when enveloped in the story of a 1970’s rock festival that seems not only dated, but so alien to Rendell herself, that you wonder why she even took it on.  She is great with middle class people, but she seems to have no facility with the hippies and rockers that make up the festival.  And its a shame, because, as I said, the solution to the mystery is quite ingenious (and, ironically, the kind of thing that would be perfect for one of her nastier stand alone mysteries).  

Date/Place Completed: June 2010; D.C.

Categories: Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017