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The Vault: The New Wexford Novel    by Ruth Rendell order for
by Ruth Rendell
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday Canada, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It's hard to believe but The Vault is the 23rd entry in Ruth Rendell's absorbing police procedural series starring Chief Inspector Wexford of the Kingsmarkham Police Force. But he's no longer a police officer. Reg Wexford has been retired for six months and he and his wife Dora spend their time between their home in Kingsmarkham and a second home (a coachhouse) in Hampstead, London, provided by their daughter Sheila, a successful actress.

Wexford misses being a policeman so when he's asked to consult on a challenging case by Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendant Tom Ede, he jumps in with both feet. Bodies have been found (by the current owner) in the coal hole (the titular vault) of Orcadia Cottage, a detached house with quite a history. The owner had never previously lifted the manhole cover. When he did so, he was shocked to find four corpses, three (those of a young man, an older man and older woman) that had been there for over a decade, and one (a young woman) more recent. Oddly the entrance to the coal hole from the house had been bricked and plastered over - why was the same thing not done with the manhole cover?

As the intuitive Reg starts investigating (usually accompanied by a police officer) trails lead to: a classic car, an Edsel Corsair; different contractors who worked on the house; and a missing illegal immigrant named Vladlena, whose fate Reg worries over. In parallel, the Wexfords deal with a family crisis when their daughter Sylvia, who'd been involved with a younger man, is knifed by him. And whenever he's back in Kingsmarkham, Reg discusses both cases with his good friend and once subordinate, Burden.

As always, Ruth Rendell writes an excellent, unusual, and well developed police procedural and, as always, I enjoy spending time with Reg Wexford and his family. Don't miss The Vault.

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