‘A New Lease of Death/ Sins of the Fathers’ is the second book in Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series, and once again we are taken back to the thinking and beliefs that existed in the 1960s.
Reverend Archery’s son – Charles wishes to marry Tess Kershaw. Before Tess’s mother re-married, she was Irene Painter, the wife of the convicted and hanged murderer Herbert Arthur Painter. The Reverend is concerned that Tess would inherit her father’s murderous genes and although in every other way he thinks Tess is perfect for his son, he is not in favour of the marriage.
So, Reverend Archery goes to Kingsmarkham to investigate the possibility of Painter’s innocence. But, the Painter case was the first murder case that Wexford led and Wexford is certain that Painter is guilty.
Archery meets with those associated with Rose Primero’s murder: her maid – Alice Flower, her grandson – Roger, and the girl who discovered the body – Elizabeth Crilling. He discovers that there were both winners and losers as a result of Mrs Primero’s death.
The end is completely unexpected for both Archery and Wexford leaving them both winners, but many other lives are affected along the way – for better or for worse.
This was an enjoyable read. I can even see some differences in style from the first Wexford novel to this one. But, once again it deals with a concept that is no longer terribly relevant, and it also highlights the class distinctions that were still very obvious in England in the 1960s.
With the first two books, this series has got off to an excellent start and I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the series – ‘Wolf to the Slaughter’.
Book Published 1969