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End in Tears: A Chief Inspector Wexford Mystery    by Ruth Rendell order for
End in Tears
by Ruth Rendell
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I always enjoy spending time with Chief Inspector Wexford, a shrewd grandfather with poetry in his soul. In End in Tears, this intuitive policeman is complemented, as always, by his subordinate and friend, Burden.

The story opens with an attempted murder that claims the wrong victim. Months later comes the killing of a young mother, eighteen-year-old Amber Marshalson. She'd been out clubbing, leaving her one-year-old son Brand in the care of her stepmother Diane. Where did Amber get the thousand pounds found in her pockets after she died? And why did she and her friend's sister Megan travel to Frankfurt? Though Wexford and Burden immediately suspect a drug connection, that proves not to be the case. Then another corpse is found, leaving Wexford and his team to wonder what the two victims had in common.

Wexford has family problems to cope with also, as his daughter Sylvia - now living, with her two boys, apart from her husband Neil - is pregnant and has decided to act as a surrogate and give the new baby to her ex and his new girlfriend Naomi, who is unable to have children of her own, but desperately wants them. This disturbs Sylvia's mother deeply, causing great strain in the family and a rift between Wexford and his wife Dora, who feels he should support her position. Humor lightens the tension as a controlling Naomi tries to oversee every aspect of Sylvia's pregnancy to the latter's enormous irritation.

Ruth Rendell weaves in intriguing subplots, including a burgeoning romance between DC Baljinder Bhattacharya and his superior officer, the excessively politically correct Hannah Goldsmith - a romance that is rather too well orchestrated for her liking. The investigators follow various trails - mostly false, but one leading to dire peril. As usual, this award winning author threads a societal theme through her plot, and twists her ending into surprising resolutions to both Amber's death and Sylvia's complicated situation. And Wexford wisely concludes, 'Love doesn't excuse everything. It doesn't excuse anything.'

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