‘Babes In The Wood’ is Ruth Rendell’s 19th Inspector Wexford novel and probably one of the best in the series so far.
Katrina and Roger Dade have taken their first weekend away since before their children were born. A friend of Katrina’s, Joanna Troy, stays with the children, Giles 15 and Sophie 13. But when Katrina and Roger return from Paris, the house is empty and Joanna’s car is gone. With the Kingsbrook in flood and parts of Kingsmarkham under water, some fear that they have drowned. DI Reg Wexford is more inclined to believe that Joanna has kidnapped the children.
The search goes on with no success. The waters subside with no sign of the missing trio. All that Wexford and Burden have found is that Joanna was almost universally disliked and that Giles belonged to a religious sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. The parents are not much help. Roger is an overly strict father and Katrina is mostly hysterical.
Then the body of one of the missing trio is found. Suddenly Wexford needs to change his view of what has happened.
The final solution is stranger than anyone could have suspected. There are not many happy endings and a few broken marriages as a result.
Throughout the story, Wexford’s older daughter Sylvia is having man trouble. Since her divorce she has been through a number of unsuitable men.
The main theme in this story is abusing and domineering men (and women). There are several in the story who make their presence felt in different ways.
There are some particularly awful characters in this novel but also a few who I really liked. There are some who I feel deserved a better outcome.
Book Published 2002