I have written before in this blog of my huge admiration for Ruth Rendell. At one time, I had read every novel and short story she'd published, both under her own name and as Barbara Vine. In the past 10 years or so, however, I've missed a few titles, and I've rather felt that (with a few notable exceptions) her most recent books have not quite reached the remarkable standards of excellence that she set in the past. But she remains a gifted writer, and I'm keen to fill in the gaps.
I decided that I'd try an audio book version of one of her Wexford stories, and was tempted by End in Tears, especially as it was read by Christopher Ravenscroft, who was so good on television in the role of Detective Inspector Mike Burden. I really like the Wexford series, and I also admired the performance of the late George Baker as a very believable television Wexford.
Again, however, I have felt that there has been something of a falling-off in the more recent Wexford books. For my taste, Rendell became a little too anxious to shove some social comment into the stories, and in such a long-established series, this occasionally seems a bit awkward and unconvincing. But I make this observation simply because I think Ruth Rendell is such a fine writer that she ought to be judged by the most demanding standards (most of the rest of us need justice to be tempered with a liberal dose of mercy!)
End in Tears is a well-constructed mystery, although not ideally suited to audio book abridgement, which led to a slightly fragmentary narrative and perhaps too many characters. The social comment element here is about surrogacy, and I found this fairly interesting. But the actual murder motive was, to my mind, genuinely fascinating, and neatly concealed. This book may not rank with the best of Wexford, but it is still enjoyable and I'm glad I've caught up with it at last.