(British, 1930– )
Ruth Rendell is unique among British crime writers. No one can equal her range or her accomplishment; she has won every major award, at home and abroad. Since she published the first Inspector Wexford novel, From Doom with Death in 1964, she has demonstrated that the genre can continually reinvent itself, assuming new concerns and exploring new ways of telling stories. Her work falls into three broad strands—the Wexford novels, the psychological Ruth Rendell novels, and the psychological suspense novels written as Barbara Vine. The Wexfords are mostly set in fictional Kingsmarkham, and reflect the changes wrought on a small Home Counties town over the passage of time, painting a picture of British society since the mid-1960s that is far from neutral. The non-Wexford Rendells demonstrate a keen interest in the collision between society and the individual. What interests her is the reality behind surfaces and what happens when outside events trigger internal seismic changes. She has a keen understanding of the power of sexuality and how it can be perverted. With the Barbara Vines, she demonstrates a fascination for the long shadows that the past casts over the present. All three series show a keen sense of place and how environment can shape events. Her best work includes the Wexford novel A Sleeping Life (1978), the non-Wexford A Demon in My View (1976), and the Barbara Vine novels A Dark-Adapted Eye (1986) and No Night is Too Long (1994).
Minette Walters, Reginald Hill, Patricia Highsmith.