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From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

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Sheila Smale

This is the first Ruth Rendell book that I have read, my normal fiction “diet” includes US authors such as James Patterson and David Baldacci and British authors such as Robert Harris and Michael Dobbs. I tend to agree with Ruth’s comment at the end of the “Afterword” that “those reading it for the first time may do well to see it as a historical novel, as distantly past as that Victorian poetry.

Life has moved on so fast from 1964 that she is certainly describing what is now a bygone age, however this does not mean that we cannot enjoy the story. I was most impressed by her descriptive powers, in a very few words she manages to conjure up a vivid picture of the setting & the characters. She weaves a fascinating story that had me guessing to the end. I can understand how these books grew into a TV series.

I really enjoyed reading this book and it has given me a new author to look out for on the shelves of the ship’s library.

Margaret Knifton

This is the first Wexford novel I have read, and I have seen only a couple of the TV programmes, so I have come to the novel with an open mind.

The plot works well as I hadn't any real idea of who Doon was until quite a way through. The use of differing narrative techniques (3rd person to give an overview of events in the main novel and 1st person to be more intimate with the letters) also adds interest, as do the poetic extracts at the start of each new chapter.

Wexford is a very complete character in the style of Gideon of the Yard (John Creasey novels of the 50s and 60s). Rendell describes him succinctly by her choice of verbs and the odd adjective spread throughout the text rather than chunks of description. Burden (an appropriate name from Wexford's point of view?) is a good foil too.

The clear existing social class system places the novel very definitely in its time as does the description of the characters' daily lives.

This was an easy read and I will certainly try some other of her novels.

Bob Wilkinson

I thought that it would be appropriate to read this book on holiday so I took it on my journey around Delphi and Marathon and other archaeological sites of ancient Greece. These were hot and tiring days with little spare time for reading. However once I started ‘From Death to Doon’ I found it gripping and I made time to finish the book before flying home.

Ruth Rendell is of course a brilliant novelist and this story although fifty years old is still gripping, her characters are still real and believable and Kingsmarkham is a setting that we can all recognise. The best thing about this book, however, is that the crime is solved by good, honest police work. There are no strange coincidences, no unlikely overheard conversations or flashes of inspiration. All the clues available to Inspector Wexford are shared with the reader so we feel that we have a fair chance of identifying the killer.

It takes a remarkable writer to compete with the myths and legends of ancient Greece but Ruth Rendell is such a writer and this book is in the top drawer of holiday reading.

Mandy Brown

The book for me was slow to start and it took me a while to read as I like books quicker getting to any story. Margaret Parsons leads an ordinary life or so it seems, married, living in a small town, doing the same things every day so when her husband comes home from work and she is not there he asks Chief Inspector Wexford for help to look for her. She is found dead in the wood and Wexford begins to investigate her murder. The only clue is a secret box of rare books hidden in the attic with an inscription from someone called Doon. Wexford was methodical at working out who Doon was and why and who killed Margaret, it took me a while to get the way he worked every clue out and I kept reading several parts again - something I do not like doing. Wexford solves his first case and I was surprised at how clever and methodical all the clues come together for the case to be solved. This would not have been my choice of reading but I did enjoy and may read other books in the series if possible.

J M Sykes

I suppose there are few people who were around fifty years ago who have neither read one of Ruth Rendell's books before, nor watched a single TV programme featuring Chief Inspector Wexford. I am one of the few.

I had expected something better - the story is neither very interesting nor is there much suspense. There are far too many names for the older reader to remember, even if it were important, and on the evidence (no pun intended) of this, her first book, it is surprising that Ruth Rendell went on to have so many books published. I can only assume that those which followed have been better. I look forward to seeing whether I am mistaken

Julia Hardy

The introduction by Ian Rankin was very useful in helping to understand the era in which the story was set. From Doon with Death was an intriguing tale with a surprising (to me) twist at the end. However it was slow to get into its stride and frankly I found it boring. Disappointingly, the reader could glean hardly anything about the main detective characters (including Inspector Wexford) and no character was built up. They just existed to tell the story and it did not make me want to read any subsequent books in the series.

Susan Stout

This is a novel of its time, set in the 1960's; Rendell herself admits that this should perhaps be read as a historical novel. The plot is weak and contains too many characters which tend to merge; it's not a book you can put down and pick up again with ease; I found that I had to revisit parts of the story to make sense of it. As the story progressed, however, I did find that the plot developed and became more enjoyable. The ending is totally unexpected and must have been quite shocking at that time.

Susan Ramsey

It is skilfully written so that the reader is led in more than one direction before the ending is revealed and this, especially given the time in which it was written, is a surprise.

Rendell has crafted this story so it is impossible to put down. She lays down red herrings and the reader finds themselves following the confusion of some of the detectives.

It is not gory, overly violent or gratuitously indulgent, as some modern novels are, but it draws you in quickly and keeps a firm focus on the plot, giving the reader and intellectual challenge. It is, above all, a good read.

It is quite short – perhaps more of a novella – so would make ideal holiday reading, if you want to enjoy a challenging story, but don’t want to spend too long enjoying it!

Catherine Crawford-Jones

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is full of intrigue and suspense that you would find in any murder mystery novel but has an ending that you would never have guessed. The book is well written and an enjoyable read and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a murder mystery novel.

Glenys Midgley

An easy to follow read, even if the characters and their intertwined lives are quite complex. The description of each character , appearance , how they behave in a situation, the loner, the misfit, the controller, the proud, the snob are all so believable we can identify people we have met or know.

The twist in the tale I found so unexpected and my sympathy so misguided. A point well made, a lesson in life, don’t judge or make assumptions.

A very enjoyable book, would not have been one I thought to choose but will certainly look for others by the author .

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