Put on by Cunning/ Death Notes by Ruth Rendell

‘Put on by Cunning/ Death Notes’ is Ruth Rendell’s 11th Inspector Wexford mystery and in this story Wexford gets a bit too clever for his own good.

Sir Manuel Camargue was a world renowned flautist (flutist) until arthritis finally ended his career. Now in his later years, he lives comfortably and has decided to get remarried, to a woman young enough to be his granddaughter.

Then his daughter Natalie, who he hasn’t seen for 19 years, returns from California and tries to re-enter his life. Camargue decides that the woman is an imposter. Two days before he is due to marry, he is found dead in a frozen lake on his own property. The inquest rules that the death is accidental, but with the claims that Natalie is an imposter, Wexford is not so sure.

Wexford and Burden can find no evidence that Natalie is an imposter or that Camargue was murdered, but, despite being warned off the case, Wexford becomes obsessed. He uses his own holidays to travel to California to investigate Natalie’s suspicious life.

More convinced than ever that something is wrong, Wexford returns and continues to investigate. He is in trouble with his boss until another body is found – and there is no doubt that this one has been murdered.

Eventually, and with another trip to the South of France, Wexford and Burden manage to find a very simple solution to what looked like a very complicated problem.


I really enjoy the way that Wexford goes about his job and his life. His wife Dora seems to be able to put up with just about anything and makes some very valuable contributions to his cases at times. In this novel, his beautiful actress daughter Sheila also gets married.

Life has changed for Burden as well. His second wife Jenny is introducing his to a long neglected life of culture. Burden is starting to look more and more human.

This series is great fun to read and I can’t wait till the next book – ‘The Speaker of Mandarin’.


Book Published 1981


See a full list of books by Ruth Rendell

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