tirsdag den 24. august 2010

Rendell in a Rage

Last week I took a look at Ruth Rendell´s novel “Simisola” about illegal immigrants and unemployment. Today´s crime novel is “Road Rage” from 1997.

Do nettles matter? Or butterflies? Well, certainly it must be more important to have a bypass around your town so people can get to work on time instead of sitting in a queue in the centre.

On the very first page Chief Inspector Reg Wexford says goodbuy to Framhurst Great Wood, deploring the fact that nature must surrender to asphalt:

“For six months the trees would remain and the uninterrupted view over the hill, the otters in the Brede and the rare Map butterfly in Framhurst Deeps. But he didn´t think he could bear to see it any more. ...

When I retire, he had told his wife, I want to live in London so that I can´t see the countryside destroyed.”

Dora Wexford believes in taking up the battle, so she joins KABAL, Kingsmarkham Against the Bypass and Landfill. Soon environmental groups join the protest, and next come the tree people, worshippers of nature who seem to mix ideas from New Age and paganism:

“The tree people drove steel bolts into tree trunks at a height calculated to buckle a chain-saw blade when felling began. They they began building themselves dwellings in the tops of beeches and oaks, tree-houses of planks and tarpaulin and approached by ladders which could be pulled up once the occupant was installed.”

Dora worries that some of tree fellers may be hurt, and Reg Wexford fears a civil war is going to break out. He tries to be pragmatic or ´eat my cake and have it´ as he says, but of course the protests escalate, and people are hurt.

Just like in “Simisola”, Rendell combines her social issue with an excellent crime plot in a way that seems natural and effortless. She introduces the various groups and their points of view, and by and by she demonstrates how difficult it is to look through people and decide who are idealists and who protests for completely different reasons.

Next week: “Harm Done” (1998)

10 kommentarer:

Kerrie sagde ...

I do like the Dora character. She's a bit like Brunetti's Paola

Bernadette in Australia sagde ...

I am not a huge fan of Rendell/Wexford but I do really like this one - I enjoy books with a greenie theme

Margot Kinberg sagde ...

Dorte - Thanks for this discussion. You highlight very effectively the social and environmental issues that Rendell treats in the book. And I agree with Kerrie; Dora is a little like Paola Brunetti, and in this particular novel, I really see the comparison.

Dorte H sagde ...

Kerrie: I haven´t read Brunetti, but one of the reasons why I love this novel is the role Dora plays in it.

Bernadette: I know you aren´t, and I agree that her novels are very different. Good that she has something for many tastes.

Margot: I do my best, but after the semesterstart it is so hard to work, read and write! I´ll never understand how you can accomplish so much in 24 hours.

....Petty Witter sagde ...

A rather eerie cover don't you think?

Kelly sagde ...

I do want to try these Wexford mysteries, but when I read a series I like to go in order. It might take me forever to get up to some of these you've been reviewing that sound so good!! I haven't even looked yet to see how many there are and what the first one is.

The comments comparing the characters to the Brunettis encourages me, too. I've only read the first, but loved the characters, including Paola.

pattinase (abbott) sagde ...

This was another Rendell that seemed all too likely to happen.

Dorte H sagde ...

Tracy: yes, but it suits the theme and the New Age thread very well, I think.

Kelly: I can see that it must be nearly impossible to catch up, but I suggest that you just go back to the 1980s or 1990s when she wrote some of the very best mysteries. Of course things happen to Wexford and his family, but the crimes are totally unrelated so it shouldn´t spoil your pleasure to begin in the middle.

Patti: you could say that!

Beth F sagde ...

If you can believe it, I've never read Rendell (at least I don't think I have) -- I probably should give her a try!

Dorte H sagde ...

Beth: there are so many fine, British crime writers today, but if you ask me who have given me most pleasures over the last twenty years the answer is undoubtedly P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. They are growing old, but they deserve great praise for their language, plots and characters. (Here endedth my sermon ;D)