The Vault is the latest novel in Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series. Most of the story is based in ‘Orcadia Cottage’ which first featured in another of Rendell’s books – ‘A Sight for Sore Eyes’.
I have been wondering for a while about what would happen when Reg Wexford got too old to be the law in Kingsmarkham. Well, he’s finally retired and handed over the reins to Mike Burden, but, we’ve still got Wexford going strong in his retirement. He and his wife Dora are now splitting their time between country Kingsmarkham and Hampstead in London. Even with the excitement of London, Wexford is finding that he misses his life as a policeman.
During a chance encounter with an old acquaintance, Tom Ede – now a Detective Inspector himself, Tom asks Wexford for help on a difficult case. Four bodies have been found in the ‘coal hole’ of Orcadia Cottage in St John’s Wood. The bodies have no identification and three have been there for about 12 years while the fourth has been there about 2 years. The ‘coal hole’ attaches to a cellar, but the internal access from the house to the cellar has been removed. Though there have been several different owners of Orcadia Cottage in the last twelve years, there has been no survey carried out, so the closing of the cellar access could have happened at any time.
Even though Wexford now has no standing as a policeman, he investigates to determine the identity of the corpses and the reason for their deaths.
While the investigation is underway, Wexford suffers a family tragedy, once again with his daughter Sylvia. Her young lover becomes obsessed with her and when she declines his marriage proposal, he stabs her.
This is the twenty-third Wexford novel and we are still getting more insight into the lives of Wexford, his family and his colleagues. I was finding Wexford becoming a bit of an old fashioned policeman in some of the more recent novels, but his retirement (or semi-retirement) seems to suit him. Wexford’s rambles through London gave a great picture of London and it’s architecture through his eyes.
This has been another great read from Ruth Rendell but I wonder if we’ll get to see any more of Wexford in the future.
Book Published 2011