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Audio Book Review


The Vault


Author: Ruth Rendell
Read by: Nigel Anthony

Complete and Unabridged
RRP: £17.19
ISBN: 978 1 408 47049 7
Available 04 August 2011

Chief Inspector Reg Wexford has retired. He and his wife, Dora, now divide their time between Kingsmarkham and a coach house in Hampstead belonging to their actress daughter, Sheila. Wexford takes great pleasure in his books, but, for all the benefits of a more relaxed lifestyle, he misses being the law. But a chance meeting in a London street changes everything. Tom Ede is a Detective Superintendent, and is very keen to recruit Wexford as an adviser on a difficult case. The bodies of four bodies have been discovered in the old coal hole of an attractive house in St John’s Wood. None carries identification. But one of the corpses jacket pockets contain expensive jewellery...

The Vault (originally published in 2011) is another of Ruth Rendell's Chief Inspector Wexford tales, only this time the action takes place after Wexford has retired from the force. Now, as a mere civilian, he has been brought on board by his old colleague, Tom Ede, who wants Wexford to do a bit of digging on his own time, and for no pay. Bored of retired life, Wexford jumps at the chance to be a police advisor and is soon poking his nose in where it isn't wanted.

The new current owners of Orcadia Cottage in St John's Wood have accidentally stumbled upon the remains of four bodies that someone has hidden in their coal hole. But when the police are called in it appears that three of the bodies have been down there for quite some time, whilst one has been placed there in the last few years. Wexford starts to investigate into the background of anyone who has lived at the address in the last decade, as well as any of the contractors who worked at the property in recent years - for someone has walled up a doorway that would have uncovered the bodies under the house.

This eight disc CD collection lasts for approximately 8 hrs, 50 min and is well read by Nigel Anthony, even if there are some unintentional comedy moments as he puts on a woman's voice for some of the female characters.

The story is surprisingly thin, and I was surprised that Rendell had managed to stretch the narrative out for so long. Of course there's plenty of red herrings, and more than a few characters that don't really add anything to the plot other than to stretch the storytelling elements out a little further.

I was a little disturbed to see that the synopsis on the back of the CD case was wrong. There are four bodies in the coal hole, not three as the AudioGO synopsis would have you believe.

Crime fans will enjoy this interesting tale.


Nick Smithson

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