We are sad to hear of the death of Ruth Rendell, aged 85. The author of more than 60 books – yes, even more than Trollope, which puts her into an small, elite club – she published her first novel From Doon With Death in 1964. It featured her series character Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford who featured in 24 novels. She also wrote under the pen-name Barbara Vine and in this guise particularly explored the psychological aspects of criminals and those on the edge of society.
Rendell had a deep interest in social issues and as a Labour Peer was instrumental in bringing to the House of Lords a bill which came into law as the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
She often said that Wexford reflected her view of the world though, interestingly, she characterised him as a Liberal Democrat in her fiction. Trollope would have liked that touch.
Along with the PD James, who died last year, Rendell transformed the crime thriller and achieved critical literary acclaim as well as popular sales. Her final novel, Dark Corners, is scheduled for publication in October 2015.