Death Notes by Ruth Rendell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What a coincidence! Having finished Julian Symons' "The Belting Inheritance", I picked Ruth Rendell's "Death Notes", and the similarities between the two novels are striking. Both are based on the motif of an impostor attempting to get inheritance, both have a part of the plot happening in France, and both exhibit what I call a triple-D, a Deeply Disappointing Denouement. Well, maybe it is just double-D with Ms. Rendell's book, without the "Deeply". Maybe.
Sir Manuel Camargue, an elderly, world-famous English flute player, drowns in a pond, shortly before his planned wedding to a very young woman. The inquest determines that the drowning has been an accident. However, Sir Manuel's estranged daughter, after 19 years of silence, contacted him a few weeks before the drowning, and Chief Inspector Wexford, who has family connections to the ex-bride-to-be, has doubts about the coincidences and about legitimacy of the purported daughter, and commences a private investigation.
Although Ms. Rendell's writing is a little bit less fun than Mr. Symons', it is quite competent and reader-friendly, and the beginning chapter is superbly crafted. The thread about Mr. Haq's restaurant and his ostensibly African dishes is hilarious. I also quite like the fragment where Inspector Wexford visits various places on the California Coast. No wonder - I have now lived more than half of my life there.
Two and three quarter stars.
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