‘The Monster in the Box’ is Ruth Rendell’s 22nd Inspector Wexford novel. This one involves Reg Wexford reminiscing about his past while solving his latest crime.
In his early days as a policeman in the 1950s, Wexford met Eric Targo. Targo lived in the same street as a murdered woman and the young PC Wexford was sure that Targo was the murderer but had no proof, not even a good reason for his suspicions.
Over the years, Targo has left Kingsmarkham for years at a time, but always returned again. On each return, Wexford has felt himself being watched. And on a number of occasions there have also been murders.
Now Targo has once again returned after his longest absence yet. And pretty soon there is another murder, a bit close to home for Wexford’s liking.
Meanwhile, Detective Mike Burden’s teacher wife Jenny and Wexford’s most politically correct colleague Hannah have become obsessed with a young Muslim girl. She was doing extremely well at school but has dropped out. Jenny and Hannah fear that her family have taken her out of school to force her to marry. Jenny and Hannah become even more obsessed when Tamina goes missing.
Wexford has no concerns about Tamina being forced to marry. He is more concerned about the connection he has found between Tamina’s family and the murderous Targo.
As Wexford tells Burden about his history with Targo, we find out about his younger days, his romances and meeting his wife Dora.
This was an excellent novel for filling in some of the gaps in Wexford’s life.
I found the whole Targo saga a bit far fetched and some of Jenny and Hannah’s concerns a bit hysterical, but once again Ruth Rendell has given an excellent commentary of social issues in Britain at the time.
The next novel in the series is ‘The Vault’. I’ve already read it and all the other novels in the series. Sadly there will be no new Wexford novels written.
Book Published 2009