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The Monster in the Box
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In Edgar-winner Rendell's 22nd Inspector Wexford novel (after 2007's Not in the Flesh), the British police detective confronts a man from his past, Eric Targo, who he suspects is guilty of multiple murders. Years earlier, Targo stalked and taunted Wexford, daring him to press charges. A squat, creepy bully with a purple birthmark disfiguring his neck, Targo has graduated from smalltime thug to prosperous businessman, ensconced in a nouveau-riche spread complete with private zoo and lion in Kingsmarkham. When Targo apparently commits a murder affecting Wexford's own family, the inspector must re-examine how Targo consistently outsmarts the law. The meeting and mating of Wexford and his wife, Dora, also figure in the backward-looking action. While the reminiscing dilutes some of the suspense, Rendell easily outdistances most mystery writers with her complex characters and her poetic yet astringent style. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Inspector Reg Wexford first encountered Eric Targo near the scene where Elsie Carroll was found murdered. Wexford's instincts told him that Targo was Elsie's killer, but with scant evidence, Targo was never charged. Years later, Wexford sees Targo near the scene of another murder and knows without a doubt that he has struck again. The victims have nothing in common, and nothing seems to connect them in any way. But the tenacious inspector manages to uncover an unusual motive in this 22nd installment in Rendell's Inspector Wexford series (after Not in the Flesh). The author's subtle humor shines through Wexford's coworker, the politically correct Hannah Goldsmith. Verdict Although not as engaging or suspenseful as many of Rendell's earlier works, this is still a compelling story that keeps readers coming back for more. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/09.]-Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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