What did the dog dig up this time?

Jen McCormackTruffle-sniffing dogs are like metal detectors for food: They use their superior olfactory talents to find these delicacies under the soil, hidden from the humans who cook and eat them.

"Not in the Flesh" is available from the library in hardcover

“Not in the Flesh” is available from the library in hardcover.

In Ruth Rendell’s novel Not in the Flesh, Jim Belbury brings his dog, Honey, to poach truffles from “Old Grimble’s Field.”

The truffles are plentiful, and the way Jim sees it, the property has been abandoned for so long no one will ever know that’s where he has been finding them.

Unfortunately for Jim, as the story opens, Honey finishes a hunt by finding a human hand wrapped in purple fabric, and the probing eye of Chief Inspector Wexford turns its attention to Old Grimble’s Field.

Shortly after this grisly discovery, another body is found in the Grimble house, and Jim’s quiet neighborhood becomes the focus of a major murder investigation.

Inspector Wexford finds himself especially interested in local author Owen Tredown and uncovers all sorts of unsavory and unusual family secrets as he probes Tredown’s past.

Rendell is a master at creating quirky and hilarious characters. In Not in the Flesh, my favorites are Tredown’s wives, Maeve and Claudia: Only one of them is currently married to Owen, but they share his home and his company, and perhaps plan to do the same with his estate when he dies.

Want more Rendell?
Wexford is consistently my favorite literary detective. If you don’t already know him from the Masterpiece Mystery series on PBS, I encourage you to introduce yourself! Rendell has been writing Wexford novels for decades, so there are plenty to choose from, and you don’t need to start with the first.

If Not in the Flesh isn’t available I’d recommend Babes in the Wood or End in Tears. Both are great introductions to Rendell’s writing and Wexford’s style of investigation.

Already a Wexford fan? I’d be thrilled to recommend other similar authors. Leave me a note in the comments below or send me an email at jennifer.mccormack@nashualibrary.org.

 

 

 

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

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