‘Simisola’ is the 16th Inspector Wexford novel by Ruth Rendell and one of the main focuses of this novel is prejudice.
Wexford’s doctor Raymond Arkande approaches Wexford because his 22 year old daughter Melanie has gone missing. The Arkandes are originally from Nigeria and one of a small number of black families living in Kingsmarkham. Melanie had an appointment at the job centre and has not been seen since.
Then Annette Bystock, the employment officer who Melanie met, is found dead in her flat. There are few clues leading to her murderer and now Wexford fears for Melanie’s life.
Then the body of a young black woman is found and Wexford immediately assumes that it is Melanie.
Meanwhile, Wexford’s daughter Sheila and her husband have both lost their jobs. The dynamics within the family and their attitudes change dramatically as they try to adjust to their new circumstances.
There is an incredible amount of prejudice highlighted within this story – racial prejudice (even the open minded Wexford fears that he might be a racist), economic prejudice, social prejudice, political prejudice, employment prejudice, gender prejudice. It seems that no one is immune.
After weeks of investigation, Wexford eventually stumbles on the clue that ties everything together and exposes the murderer. The full truth is more horrifying than anyone could have imagined.
This was a very clever but very complex novel. Kingsmarkham is a small place and everyone’s lives are interconnected in some way, yet much of the time people are blind to what is really going on.
Even though the story is set in the 1990s, the issues are still the same. We have high unemployment and many of the prejudices have only got worse over time.
This was and excellent novel to read and I look forward to reading the next in the series – ‘Road Rage’.
Book Published 1994