The Babes in the Wood

Ruth Rendell

Random House 2002
A book review by Danny Yee © 2002
A couple returns from a weekend in Paris to find their two teenage children and the baby-sitter have disappeared. With the area around the town of Kingsmarkham flooded, the mother and Chief Inspector Wexford's superior both think they have drowned — but when the "Subaqua" frogmen find nothing Wexford's intuitions are confirmed. Are the children babes in the wood or are they no innocents? Are they still alive? In any event, their disappearance will catalyse the breakup of several marriages.

It has little menace, with the main protagonists never in danger, but The Babes in the Wood is a good page-turner, with a steady flow of possibilities, uncertainties, and twists. As usual, Rendell provides a fascinating collection of characters: as well as the still-interesting Wexford and his sidekick Burden, these include the members of a revivalist church, a high-flying Londoner with a model wife and a rarely used country home, and an unusually "with it" grandmother. And the background events offer their own interest — Wexford's own house is at risk from the floods, while one of his daughters is threatened in a most unexpected fashion. The Babes in the Wood won't disappoint Rendell aficionados.

December 2002

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%T The Babes in the Wood
%A Rendell, Ruth
%I Random House
%D 2002
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0091794560
%P x,323pp