‘No More Dying Then’ is the 6th Inspector Wexford book by Ruth Rendell. And for me, this book took the series forward a long way – rounding out the character of Mike Burden who until this book has had much more of a background role.
The story begins with the disappearance of 5 year old John Lawrence. While the search is getting underway, Burden interviews John’s mother Gemma. Gemma is everything the Burden dislikes – divorced, poor housekeeper, disorganised, unusual dresser etc. But with Burden having lost his beloved wife Jean to cancer a year earlier, something about the fiery redhead Gemma touches him The rest of the book provides some excellent insights into Burden’s personality as he struggles between the straight-laced person he is, and his desires. We also get to know a lot more about the rest of Burden’s family as well.
Although there are no real links, Inspector Reg Wexford can’t help comparing the current case to the disappearance of 11 year old Stella Rivers eight months earlier. No trace of Stella was ever found and the investigation faltered. Stella’s mother and stepfather, very much in love, have already moved on with their lives.
It doesn’t look as though Gemma Lawrence would ever manage to move on with her life or ever give up the hope that John would be found.
In revisiting the Stella Rivers case, Wexford and Burden are eventually able to solve Stella’s disappearance as well as John’s. But, the criminals involved can never be made to pay for their crimes.
This book was amazing – especially seeing layer after layer peeled back to expose the man who is Mike Burden. Normally so competent and confident it was incredible to see the insecurities at his core. I hope that we can get to know Reg Wexford to the same level in a future book in the series. I can hardly wait to move into the next one – ‘Murder Being Done Once’.
Book Published 1971