Ruth Rendell, one of the most prolific authors of the mystery and thriller genre, passed away May 2nd. Getting her start at a local newspaper she would eventually become Baroness Rendell of Barbergh and go on to become a valuable member of the House of Lords for the Labour Party in her later years.
Perhaps more notably, she wrote 24 mystery novels featuring her most famous creation, Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, and was extremely influential in developing the psychological thriller genre in her over 20 other novels. In the hot-tempered, erudite Wexford, Rendell created an iconic British detective who would go on to be played by George Barker in a successful television series based on her novels. No Man’s Nightingale, the last of the Inspector Wexford series has as many twists and turns as the first. Rendell was the recipient of many awards including three Edgar Awards and the prestigious Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Along with her close friend P.D. James, Rendell developed a genre that delved into the psychological aspects of crime. Pushing past the cozy mysteries and police procedurals that had dominated the crime genre, Rendell developed something new that would open the field for bestsellers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Her latest psychological thriller, The Girl Next Door, delves into themes of age and memory as three childhood friends contend with the fallout from events that occurred 60 years ago. Also stayed tuned for her final book, Dark Corners, to be released October of this year.
If you are a fan of the genre and have not read any of Rendell’s oeuvre do yourself a favor and start now. Since her books delve so deeply into the psychology of the human condition they withstand the test of time. Her mysteries are complex and layered and will keep even the most genre-savvy reader guessing.