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Not in the Flesh

Cover of Not in the Flesh

Not in the Flesh

Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery Series, Book 21
A new Chief Inspector Wexford mystery from the author who Time magazine has called "the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world." When the truffle-hunting dog starts to dig furiously, his...More
A new Chief Inspector Wexford mystery from the author who Time magazine has called "the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world." When the truffle-hunting dog starts to dig furiously, his...More
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Description-
  • A new Chief Inspector Wexford mystery from the author who Time magazine has called "the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world."

    When the truffle-hunting dog starts to dig furiously, his master's first reaction is delight at the size of the clump the dog has unearthed: at the going rate, this one truffle might be worth several hundred pounds. Then the dirt falls away to reveal not a precious mushroom but the bones and tendons of what is clearly a human hand.

    In Not in the Flesh, Chief Inspector Wexford tries to piece together events that took place eleven years earlier, a time when someone was secretly interred in a secluded patch of English countryside. Now Wexford and his team will need to interrogate everyone who lives nearby to see if they can turn up a match for the dead man among the eighty-five people in this part of England who have disappeared over the past decade. Then, when a second body is discovered nearby, Wexford experiences a feeling that's become a rarity for the veteran policeman: surprise.

    As Wexford painstakingly moves to resolve these multiple mysteries, long-buried secrets are brought to daylight, and Ruth Rendell once again proves why she has been hailed as our greatest living mystery writer.

    From the Hardcover edition.
 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One Tom Belbury died in May and now that summer was over his brother missed him more than ever. Neither of them had married, so there was no widow and no children, only the dog, Honey. Jim took Honey to live with him; he had always liked her and it was what Tom had wanted. When he knew he hadn't long to live he worried a lot about Honey, what would happen to her after he was gone, and though Jim assured him repeatedly that he would take her, Tom said it again and again.

    "Haven't I promised over and over?" Jim asked. "You want me to put it in writing and get it witnessed? I will if that's what you want."

    "No, I trust you. She's a good dog."

    Tom's trust hadn't been misplaced. Jim lived in the cottage that had been the brothers' parents' home and there Honey went to live with him. She was no beauty, owing her ancestry to an apparent mix of spaniel, basset hound, and Jack Russell. Tom used to say she looked like a corgi and everyone knew corgis were the Queen's dogs, having so to speak the royal seal of approval, but Jim couldn't see it. Nevertheless, he had grown attached to Honey. Apart from fidelity and affection, she had one great virtue. She was a truffle dog.

    Every September, at the beginning of the month, Tom and Honey used to go into one patch of woodland or another in the neighborhood of Flagford and hunt for truffles. A lot of people scoffed. They said truffles couldn't be found in Britain, only in France and Italy, but there was no doubt Honey found them, was rewarded with a lump of meat, and Tom sold the truffles to a famous London restaurant for £200 a pound.

    Jim disliked the taste but he liked the idea of £200 and pos- sibly more. He had never been truffle-hunting with Tom but he knew how it was done. This was why a mild and sunny morning in late September found him and Honey in what their neighbors called the posh part of Flagford where Flagford Hall faced Athelstan House across Pump Lane, each amid extensive grounds. They had no interest in these houses or their occupants. They were heading for Old Grimble's Field that filled the corner between the gardens of Athelstan House and two identical detached houses called Oak Lodge and Marshmead.

    Like the Holy Roman Empire, which Gibbon said was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire, this open space wasn't a field, nor was Grimble particularly old or really called Grimble. It was an overgrown piece of land, about an acre of what estate agents describe as a corner plot. Due to years of inattention, saplings had grown into trees, shrubs into bushes, roses and privet and dogwood into hedges, and trees had doubled in size. Somewhere in the middle of this burgeoning woodland stood a semiderelict bungalow that had belonged to Grimble's father, its windows boarded up, its roof slowly shedding its tiles. Tom Belbury had been there truffle- hunting with Honey the year before and pronounced it rich in members of the genus Tuber.

    Because Tom had carried the rewards for Honey unwrapped in the breast pocket of his leather jacket, he usually smelled of meat that was slightly "off." Jim hadn't much liked it at the time, but now he recalled it with affection. How pleased dear old Tom would be to see him and Honey heading for Old Grimble's Field in close companionship, following his old pursuit. Perhaps he could see, Jim thought sentimentally, and imagined him looking down from whatever truffle wood in the sky he found himself in.

    Honey was the director of operations. Tom used to claim that she was drawn to a particular spot by the presence of truffle flies hovering around the base of a tree, and now she led Jim to a mature tree (a sycamore, he thought it was) where he could see...
About the Author-
  • RUTH RENDELL has won numerous awards, including three Edgars, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as three Gold Daggers, a Silver Dagger, and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writer’s Association. A member of the House of Lords, she lives in London.


    From the Hardcover edition.
Reviews-
  • The New York Times "Ghoulish fun.... The height of her malevolent powers. Rendell can do whatever she likes and still get away with it."
  • Los Angeles Times "Vivid and witty. Wexford is his usual smart, compassionate self as he unravels a web of lies and deception larger than any of the characters realize."
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch "To call Ruth Rendell prolific is akin to calling the Grand Canyon a slight dip in the landscape. . . . Not in the Flesh is the work of a writer who continues to command respect and satisfy her legion of writers."
  • The Christian Science Monitor "The unflappable detective still hasn't worn out his welcome.... A fine example of Rendell's sharp writing, intelligence, and humanity."
  • The New York Times Book Review "In the best whodunit tradition, Rendell advances her plot through surprises...so shocking they dash all calculations."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery Series, Book 21
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Ruth Rendell
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