Inspector Wexford books in order

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in order

English crime writer Ruth Rendell is synonymous with her Sussex-based Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford.

One of the most famous sleuths of the twentieth century, Inspector Wexford is a sensitive man with an attention to detail fitting of any super-sleuth and an uncanny knack of teasing out the truth.

Ruth Rendell is a true crime legend and her Inspector Wexford series are a perfect place to wind away several hours in the English countryside working out whodunit.

Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford books in order:

ruth rendell's inspector wexford books in orderFrom Doon With Death

The trampled grass led to the body of Margaret Parsons.

With no useful clues and a victim known only for her mundane life, Chief Inspector Wexford is baffled until he discovers Margaret’s dark secret – a collection of rare books, each inscribed from a secret lover and signed only as ‘Doon’.

Who is Doon? And could the answer hold the key to Wexford solving his first case?

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderA New Lease of Death

It’s impossible to forget the violent bludgeoning to death of an elderly lady in her home. Even more so when it’s your first murder case.

Wexford believed he’d solved Mrs Primero’s murder fifteen years ago. It was no real mystery. Everyone knew Painter, her odd-job man, had done it. There had never been any doubt in anyone’s mind. Until now…

Henry Archery’s son is engaged to Painter’s daughter. Only Archery can’t let the past remain buried. He wants to prove Wexford wrong, and in probing into the lives of the witnesses questioned all those years ago, he stirs up more than old ghosts.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderWolf to the Slaughter

Anita Margolis has vanished. Dark and exquisite, Anita’s character is as mysterious as her disappearance. There was no body, no crime – nothing more concrete than an anonymous letter and the intriguing name of Smith. According to headquarters, it wasn’t to be considered a murder enquiry at all.

With the letter providing them with only one questionable lead to follow, Wexford and his sidekick Inspector Burden are compelled to make enquiries. They soon discover Anita is wealthy, flighty, and thoroughly immoral. The straight-laced Burden has a very clear idea of what happened to her. But Wexford has his own suspicions…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderThe Best Man to Die

A man and his daughter lie dead after a car accident. Strangely, no other car was involved and no cause has been found. Wexford’s only option is to wait and hope that the one surviving victim – the mother, Mrs Fanshawe – regains consciousness.

But when she finally awakens six weeks later, Wexford’s attention has already been distracted by a new and very violent case. Walking by the canal that same morning, Wexford discovered the bloody body of Charlie Hatton.

The two cases are obviously unrelated, although something is bothering Wexford and he can’t work out why or what. But just as he begins to wonder whether there could in fact be a connection, the unexpected occurs: the Fanshawe daughter, believed to be killed in the accident, appears at her mother’s beside very much alive…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderA Guilty Thing Surprised

The discovery of Elizabeth Nightingale’s broken body in the woods near her home could not have come as a bigger shock. Called in to investigate, Chief Inspector Wexford quickly determines that the Nightingales were considered the perfect couple – wealthy, attractive and without an enemy in the world.

However, someone must have been alone with Elizabeth that night in the woods. Someone who hated – or perhaps loved – her enough to beat her to death.

The case seems straightforward. But Wexford soon learns that beneath the placid surface of the Nightingales’ lives lie undercurrents and secrets no one ever suspected.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderNo More Dying Then

On a stormy February afternoon, little Stella Rivers disappears – never to be seen again. There were no clues, no demands and no traces. And there was nowhere else for Wexford and his team to look. All that remained was the cold fear and awful dread that touched everyone in Kingsmarkham.

Just months later, another child vanishes – five-year-old John Lawrence. Wexford and Inspector Burden are launched into another investigation and, all too quickly, they discover chilling similarities to the Stella Rivers case.

Then the letters begin. The horrifying, evil, threatening letters of a madman. And suddenly Wexford is fighting against time to find the missing boy, before he meets the same fate as poor Stella…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderMurder Being Done Once

It seems fitting that the final resting place of a girl’s body should be in a graveyard. But this is no peaceful burial. This is a brutal murder scene.

Under strict orders from his doctor to indulge in no criminal investigation, Wexford is sent to London for a break away from the pressures of the Kingsmarkham police force. But then he discovers that his nephew Howard is heading the investigation into the macabre murder of Loveday Morgan, whose body was found abandoned in Kenbourne Cemetery.

Despite opposition from Howard and his team, Wexford is drawn to the case. And when he unearths Loveday’s connection to a religious cult whose leader was imprisoned for sexual absue, he relentlessly pursues this sinister new lead…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderSome Lie and Some Die

When the body of a brutally beaten girl is found in a quarry during a hedonistic hippy festival near Kingsmarkham, Wexford is first on the scene. The victim’s face has been pulped by the back-end of a bottle, but who, in this atmosphere of peace and love, could be capable of such violence?

The body is that of local girl turned stripper Dawn Stonor, but it is the unlikely link between this ill-fated girl and the mysterious folk-singer Zeno Vedast that piques Wexford’s interest.

Through an intricate web of lies and deceit, Wexford uncovers a history of love and hate that began years earlier. In all his years of police work, he has never been faced with a crime of such desperate passion…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderShake Hands Forever

Angela Hathall is found strangled in her bed but, shockingly, the murder of this meek and solitary woman sparks little emotion from her husband. Called in to investigate, Wexford’s curiosity only deepens when he discovers that the Hathall household has been meticulously cleaned but for a single distinctive palm print.

As the case develops Wexford is increasingly frustrated by the seemingly pointless nature of the murder. There is no motive, no weapon and no suspect. Nothing except the unidentified print.

But despite the sparse evidence, Wexford is convinced Hathall is hiding something. So when Wexford is taken off the case he decides to take matters into his own hands…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderA Sleeping Life

On a sultry August evening, the bloody body of a middle-aged woman is discovered beneath a hedge by a small boy.

There are only two things that surprise Wexford about the murder scene. One, that the only contents of the woman’s handbag are some keys and a wallet containing nothing but some money. And two, how even in death, her deathly grey eyes possess a scornful glare.

The woman turns out to be Rhoda Comfrey, but there’s no murder weapon, no apparent motive, and no one who actually cares that she died. Wexford’s only hunch is that the clues to her murder must lie in her solitary London life. But her existence there becomes frustratingly impossible to trace.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderPut On By Cunning

Sir Manuel Camargue, Kingsmarkham’s very own celebrity flautist, dies tragically on a snowy night. His death is met with a ruling of misadventure and appears to be an open-and-shut-case. However Wexford, as the investigating officer, has a few niggling doubts.

Nineteen years later, Camargue’s entrancing daughter, Natalie, now a considerable heiress, suddenly reappears in Kingsmarkham. When her fiancé appeals to Wexford for help, believing that Natalie is using a false identity, the case of the Camargues is once more under investigation.

Events soon take a gruesome twist and the pressure is on for Wexford to discover Natalie’s true identity and to solve the mystery of the Camargue family, once and for all.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderThe Speaker of Mandarin

Wherever Reggie Wexford goes, death and intrigue are close on his heels. Having just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in China, Wexford finds himself haunted by memories of the old woman with bound feet who mysteriously followed him from one city to the next and the man who tragically drowned.

Now, back in England, he finds himself investigating the murder of a fellow tourist. Knowing that the clue to these three mysteries lies in the East, Wexford turns his investigative skills to that place of unfathomable and sinister depths…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderAn Unkindness of Ravens

The raven: not a particularly predatory bird, but far from soft and submissive, adopted as the symbol of a militant feminist group…

Detective Chief Inspector Wexford thought he was merely doing a neighbourly good deed when he agreed to talk to Joy Williams about her missing husband. He certainly didn’t expect to be investigating a most unusual homicide.

Rodney Williams was neither handsome nor wealthy – but he had an unerring eye for a pretty girl and when he disappeared and two other men were later attacked by a young woman, Wexford couldn’t help wondering if there was a connection. If there wasn’t, where was Rodney Williams and why had he vanished? He had committed no crime – apart from telling his wife the occasional lie…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderThe Veiled One

Concealed by a shroud of dirty brown velvet, looking like a heap of rags, the woman’s dead body lay between a silver Escort and a dark-blue Lancia.

In the desolate shopping centre car park, Wexford has been too preoccupied to notice anything out of the ordinary – only the teenage girl in the red car, driving past him rather too fast. It was Burden who called him at home with the grim news later that evening: the woman had been attacked from behind, perhaps with a thin length of wire.

But before Wexford can delve any deeper into this curious murder, he, too, faces death… Can Burden solve this mysterious crime without the help of his worldly Chief Inspector?

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderKissing the Gunner’s Daughter

The thirteenth of May is famously the unluckiest day of the year. Sergeant Caleb Martin of Kingsmarkham CID had no idea just how terminally unlucky it would prove, as he embarked upon his last day on earth…

Ten months later, Wexford is confronted with a murder scene of horrific brutality. At first the bloodbath at Tancred House looks like the desperate work of a burglar panicked into murder. The sole survivor of the massacre, seventeen-year-old Daisy Flory, remembers the events imperfectly, and her confused account of the fatal night seems to confirm this theory. But more and more, Chief Inspector Wexford is convinced that the crime lies closer to home, and that it has sinister links to the murder of Sergeant Martin…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderSimisola

Only eighteen black people live in Kingsmarkham. One of them is Wexford’s new doctor, Raymond Akande. When the doctor’s daughter, Melanie, goes missing, the Chief Inspector takes more than just a professional interest in the case.

Melanie, just down from university but unable to find a job, disappeared somewhere between the Benefit Office and the bus stop. Or at least no one saw her get on the bus when it came…

When the body of a young black woman is discovered, Wexford must overcome his underlying prejudices to allow his investigative skills to succeed.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderRoad Rage

A by-pass is planned in the sleepy village of Kingsmarkham, a move that would destroy its peace and natural habitat forever. Wexford’s wife Dora joins the protest movement, but Wexford must be more circumspect. Trouble is expected.

Before the protesters even have a chance to make their presence felt, the badly decomposed body of a young woman is discovered. Burden believes he knows the identity of the murderer, but Wexford is not convinced.

Just as Wexford is about to investigate the murder, a number of people disappear – including Dora Wexford. The Chief Inspector must battle with his powerful emotions and solve the case immediately, before his wife is placed in any mortal danger…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderHarm Done

A notorious paedophile is released back into the community. The residents of the Muriel Campden Estate are up in arms, and even prepared to take the law into their own hands…

Chief Inspector Wexford is faced with the effects of violence and prejudice every day as a policeman, and he is also involved with a new programme to help victims of domestic violence. His daughter, Sylvia, has come to work nearby in a refuge for battered women. Her marriage is not a happy one, although her husband has never raised a hand to her. They are merely incompatible. Other women in Kingsmarkham are not so lucky…

Wexford is soon called upon to investigate two extremely serious crimes which will affect the lives and attitudes of police and innocent villagers alike…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderThe Babes in the Wood

There hadn’t been anything like this kind of rain in living memory. The River Brede had burst its banks, and not a single house in the valley had escaped flooding. Even where Wexford lives, higher up in Kingsmarkham, the waters had nearly reached the mulberry tree in his once immaculate garden. The Subaqua Task Force could find no trace of Giles and Sophie Dade, let alone the woman who was keeping them company, Joanna Troy. But Mrs Dade is convinced her children are dead.

As he embarks upon this mysterious investigation, Wexford is forced to question many of his core assumptions about society, even about his own family…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderEnd in Tears

A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The young woman in the car behind is spared. But only for a while…

A few weeks later, George Marshalson lives every father’s worst nightmare: he discovers the murdered body of his eighteen-year-old daughter on the side of the road.

As a man with a strained father-daughter relationship himself, Wexford must struggle to keep his professional life as a detective separate from his personal life as husband and father. Particularly when a second teenage girl is murdered – a victim unquestionably linked to the first – and another family is shattered…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderNot in the Flesh

Searching for truffles in a wood, a man and his dog unearth something slightly less savoury – a human hand. The corpse, as Chief Inspector Wexford is informed later, has lain buried for ten years or so, wrapped in a purple cotton sheet. The post-mortem can not reveal the precise cause of death. The only clue to solving this mysterious murder is a crack in one of the dead man’s ribs.

Wexford knows it will be a difficult job to identify the dead body. Although it covers a relatively short period of time, the police computer stores a long list of missing persons. People disappear at an alarming rate – hundreds each day. And then, only about twenty yards away from the woodland burial site, in the cellar of a disused cottage, another body is found.

The detection skills of Wexford, Burden and the other investigating officers of the Kingsmarkham Police Force are tested to the utmost to discover whether the murders are connected and to track down whoever is responsible.

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderThe Monster in the Box

Wexford had almost made up his mind that he would never again set eyes on Eric Targo’s short, muscular figure. And yet there he was, back in Kingsmarkham, still with that cocky, strutting walk.

Years earlier, when Wexford was a young police officer, a woman called Elsie Carroll had been found strangled in her bedroom. Although many still had their suspicions that her husband was guilty of her violent murder, no one was convicted.

Another woman was strangled shortly afterwards, and every personal and professional instinct told Wexford that the killer was still at large. And that it was Eric Targo. A psychopathic murderer who would kill again…

As the Chief Inspector investigates a new case, Ruth Rendell looks back to the beginning of Wexford’s career as a detective, even to his courtship of the woman who would become his wife. The villainous Targo is not the only ghost from Wexford’s past who has re-emerged to haunt him in the here and now…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderThe Vault

Wexford has retired from the crime force. He takes great pleasure in his books, but, for all the benefits of a more relaxed lifestyle, he misses being the hand of 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 mysterious murder case.

The bodies of two women and a man have been discovered in the old coal hole of an attractive house in St John’s Wood. None of the corpses carry identification. But the man’s jacket pockets contain a string of pearls, a diamond and a sapphire necklace as well as other jewellery valued in the region of £40,000. To Wexford, this is definitely a case worth coming out of retirement for. He is intrigued and excited by the challenge, but unaware that this new investigative role will bring him into extreme physical danger…

Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford books in orderNo Man’s Nightingale

The woman vicar of St Peter’s Church may not be popular among the community of Kingsmarkham. But it still comes as a profound shock when she is found strangled in her vicarage.

Inspector Wexford is retired, but he retains a relish for solving mysteries especially when they are as close to home as this one is. So when he’s asked whether he will assist on the case, he readily agrees. But why did the vicar die? And is anyone else in Kingsmarkham in danger?

What Wexford doesn’t know is that the killer is far closer than he, or anyone else, thinks.

There you have it – Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford books in order! How many have you read? Let us know in the comments below…

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