|Ruth Rendell (1930-2015)|
Rendell grew increasingly restive with the puzzle aspect of the her Inspector Wexford novels (something Raymond Chandler, not one of the mystery genre's most natural plotters, compared to "coolie labor") and by the 1990s was lengthily exploring social issues in the Wexfords. To my mind her Wexfords of the 1990s--Kissing the Gunner's Daughter (1991), Simisola (1994), Road Rage (1997) and Harm Done (1999)--still have much enjoyment to offer puzzle fans, as well as those who enjoy the broader focus of the crime novel.
Rendell's last Wexford detective novel, No Man's Nightingale, appeared in 2013, nearly a half-century after the first, Rendell's classic debut novel, From Doon with Death (1964). A new Rendell crime novel, Dark Corners, completed by Rendell shortly before she was felled by her stroke, will appear later this year. It's an appropriate title. Rendell illuminated the dark corners of the human mind for over a half-century, holding fans in her narrative grip through 66 novels and 7 original short story collections. Like the work of her equally prolific predecessor, Agatha Christie, Rendell's work will, I believe, last as permanent fixtures in the crime fiction canon. RIP Ruth Rendell.