‘An Unkindness of Ravens’ is Ruth Rendell’s 13th Inspector Wexford mystery and while I greatly preferred it to the previous book in the series – ‘The Speaker of Mandarin’, I still found it very dated and some of the social commentary almost parody like.
Joy Williams’s husband Rodney has gone missing. He went away on a business trip and didn’t return on the expected date. Joy is a neighbour of the Wexfords, so detective Reg Wexford goes to see her but quickly dismisses the problem. Rodney has probably gone off with another woman for a while – hardly surprising with a sour, tired, boring wife like Joy.
But then Rodney’s travel bag turns up and shortly after that his body is found, stabbed and buried. Once the murder appears in the newspapers, Rodney’s other wife, Wendy, comes forward. Rodney was a bigamist with two complete families in adjoining towns. He also had a series of teenage girlfriends.
Obviously there are plenty of suspects for his murder.
As the investigation goes on over a period of months, there is another related murder as well as several stabbings.
The raven is the symbol of a militant feminist group in the area that consists mostly of young women. They are keen to protect themselves from any unwanted advances (this part of the book was, in my opinion, a bit ridiculous).
Wexford’s colleague Mike Burden is expecting a child with his new wife Jenny. She always thought she was fairly open minded but is devastated when she finds out that the baby will be a girl. I quite liked the character of Jenny until this book and now I feel a bit let down.
Eventually the murder is solved. The murderer was pretty predictable but the motive was much less so.
The next book in the series is – ‘The Veiled One’.
Book Published 1985