Saturday 1 November 2008

A Sleeping Life

A Sleeping Life was one of the first Wexford novels by Ruth Rendell that I read, and it has stuck in my mind because of the clever twist upon which the plot depends. So when the chance came to watch a repeat of the televised adaptation, featuring George Baker in his most famous role as DCI Reg Wexford, I seized it – and I wasn’t disappointed.

It’s classic British television from the 80s, with a first rate class. In addition to Louie Ramsey and Christopher Ravenscroft playing their usual parts as Dora Wexford and Mike Burden with great accomplishment, this episode saw appearances by two stars, Sylvia Syms (very good as drunken Mrs Crown) and Imelda Staunton.

When Rhoda Comfrey is stabbed to death on a visit to Kingsmarkham, it appears to have been a crime of passion. Rhoda was returning to her roots, seeing her dying father in hospital. She has lived in London for over twenty years. But when inquiries are made – nobody in the capital admits to knowing anything about her, and no trace of her existence can be found. Eventually, a link is established between Rhoda and a missing novelist, but even then all the leads turn into dead ends until a visit to the theatre gives Wexford the vital clue.

Just as I enjoyed the novel (which I can recommend) I enjoyed the tv version. I’ll be looking out for more Wexford repeats in the future.


Ed Gorman said...

I haven't caught up with the tv version but the novel is exemplary in every way. I still think Rendell is the finest crime writer alive. Her gothic take on existence seems perfectly apt as a way of examining our times.

harriet said...

I remember this novel, and extremely clever it is, as you say. Never saw the TV version, which sounds great!

Barrie said...

I always appreciate a great plot twist.