‘Harm Done’ is the 18th Ruth Rendell novel featuring Detective Reg Wexford and his companion Mike Burden and set in the fictional country village of Kingsmarkham.
On two successive Saturday nights, a young woman is abducted only to be returned a few days later, completely unharmed. Both of the woman are either unable of unwilling to give much detail on what has actually happened to them.
Meanwhile a paedophile is due to be released back into the community and the community is outraged. They fear for their children and don’t want him living anywhere near them.
Wexford’s older daughter Sylvia is working in a shelter for woman suffering from domestic abuse, taking calls on a helpline. Not only is she finding out about abuse in the area but also hearing a lot of the local gossip.
Then there is a 3rd abduction but this time the victim is a child. Wexford first needs to determine if it is related to the other abductions.
Then finally a man is stabbed to death.
Somehow all the serious events in Kingsmarkham end up being related and it is only Wexford’s incredible understanding of human nature that allows him to solve the crimes.
Much of the emphasis of this novel was on the incredible tragedy of domestic abuse and the affect that it has on not only the victim (usually the wife) but also the children. Does a child who witnesses his mother being abused end up becoming an abuser?
Wexford’s relationship with his daughter Sylvia was closer in this novel than we have seen in the past. She is a strong campaigner for social justice and in this novel was able to help Wexford rather than getting on his nerves.
Even Mike Burden showed a much more human and compassionate side in this novel.
I’m looking forward to continuing the series with – ‘Babes in the Woods’.
Book Published 1999