Book Review: The Vault

Author:  Ruth Rendell

Four bodies are discovered – buried in a coal hole in the back patio of a prestigious home (Orcadia Cottage) in St. John’s Wood, London.   A chance discovery of two women and two men each of varying ages.  Stranger yet, it would appear that the bodies were placed inside during various years and the owner of the property claims to be as surprised as everyone else.   This is the setting for Ruth Rendell’s crime thriller, The Vault.

Although the book was an easy read, it was not as riveting as I had hoped.  Enjoyable but not riveting.

In essence, a cold case has been dropped into the lap of retired inspector Reg Wexford who has been pining away for an opportunity to dust off his investigative skills.  With no identification on any of the bodies and a substantial quantity of expensive jewelery totaling 40,000 pound buried alongside the bodies, how will they even start the identification process (let alone the motives for the killing)?

Who placed the bodies into this strange location?  What has happened to the access port from inside the house and who may be able to help the retired detective solve such a strange occurrence.  How long would you look for the answers and at what personal risk?

Reg Wexford is happy to sleuth about, interviewing many on his quest to solve such a challenging case.   Why has no one reported any of these people as missing persons?  With so many unanswered questions, it might just be what Reg Wexford needs to stave off his retirement boredom.

Along the way, Wexford has a family mystery to solve when his daughter is stabbed, by an apparent maniac, while collecting her child from school. Wexford has to find this attacker while simultaneously pursuing the one clue as to the identity of the Orcadia murderer: a glamorous 1950s American saloon car seen in the vicinity. As he explores one lead after another, he is lead through the streets of London to the hidden brothels and into personal danger.  He even becomes the victim of a stabbing, “Britain’s murder method of choice”.

Will Wexford manage to solve the case and survive himself?   Grab a copy of Ruth Rendell’s book and find out.