‘Not in the Flesh’ is Ruth Rendell’s 21st Wexford novel and follows Wexford as he solves the murders of two long dead men.
While truffle hunting with his dog in Grimble’s field, a man unearths a skeleton. Grimble’s field is private property left by old Mr Grimble to his son. When the younger Mr Grimble had a multiple residence development application turned down, he left the large property to decay, after filling in an excavation he had already started. The skeleton seems to date back 11 years to the time of the excavation.
As Inspector Reg Wexford and his team battle to identify the body and its cause of death, another body is discovered in the abandoned cottage on the property – this one dead for about 8 years.
Much of the investigation involves going through missing persons reports (they haven’t been computerised that far back) and interviewing the eccentric neighbours of Grimble’s field. These include a woman in her 80s who now has trouble getting around and a famous author who lives with both his wife and ex-wife.
Outside of the investigation, both of Wexford’s daughters and his wife are working with the local Somali community to help stop female circumcision which is still common in their culture but illegal in the U.K. One very young girl is definitely considered to be in danger.
The murder cases are eventually solved through lots of hard work and a chance discovery by one of Wexford’s detectives.
This was another excellent mystery as well as a social commentary (as are most of the novels in this series).
The thing I enjoyed most about this novel was some of the secondary characters, particularly the neighbours to the Grimble property, and Selena – the girl who lost her father.
I’m looking forward to reading the next novel in the series – ‘The Monster in the Box’.
Book Published 2007