Ruth Rendell Books

Ruth Rendell was a British author who specialised in writing crime fiction novels, with her best-known creation, Inspector Wexford appearing in 24 of her 52 published novels, as well as appearing in several episodes of The Ruth Rendell Mysteries television series. As well as writing the Inspector Wexford series, Rendell wrote 28 standalone novels, as well as three novellas. Ruth Rendell also wrote under the pen name Barbara Vine, under which she published another 14 novels.

Order of Inspector Wexford Collections Series

# Read Title Published
1 Means of Evil and Other Stories 1979

Order of Inspector Wexford Series

# Read Title Published
1 From Doon With Death 1964
2 A New Lease of Death 1967
3 Wolf to the Slaughter 1967
4 Sins of the Fathers 1967
5 The Best Man to Die 1969
6 A Guilty Thing Surprised 1970
7 No More Dying Then 1971
8 Murder Being Once Done 1972
9 Some Lie and Some Die 1973
10 Shake Hands Forever 1975
11 A Sleeping Life 1978
12 Death Notes 1981
13 Put on by Cunning 1981
14 Speaker of Mandarin 1983
15 The Speaker Of Mandarin 1983
16 An Unkindness of Ravens 1985
17 The Veiled One 1988
18 Road Rage 1991
19 Ginger and the Kingsmarkham Chalk Circle (Short Story) 1992
20 Kissing the Gunner's Daughter 1992
21 Simisola 1994
22 Harm Done 1999
23 The Babes in the Wood 2002
24 End in Tears 2005
25 Not in the Flesh 2007
26 The Monster in the Box 2009
27 The Vault 2011
28 No Man's Nightingale 2013

Order of Ruth Rendell Short Story Collections

Order of Ruth Rendell Standalone Novels

# Read Title Published
1 To Fear a Painted Devil 1965
2 Vanity Dies Hard 1966
3 The Secret House Of Death 1968
4 One Across, Two Down 1971
5 The Face of Trespass 1974
6 A Demon in My View 1976
7 A Judgement in Stone 1977
8 Make Death Love Me 1979
9 The Lake of Darkness 1980
10 Master of the Moor 1982
11 The Tree of Hands 1984
12 The Killing Doll 1984
13 Live Flesh 1986
14 A Dark-Adapted Eye 1986
15 Talking to Strange Men 1987
16 Heartstones 1987
17 A Fatal Inversion 1987
18 The House of Stairs 1988
19 The Bridesmaid 1989
20 Going Wrong 1990
21 Gallowglass 1990
22 King Solomon's Carpet 1991
23 The Crocodile Bird 1993
24 Anna's Book 1993
25 No Night is Too Long 1994
26 The Reason Why 1995
27 Blood Lines 1995
28 The Brimstone Wedding 1995
29 The Keys to the Street 1996
30 A Sight for Sore Eyes 1998
31 The Chimney Sweeper's Boy 1998
32 Grasshopper 2000
33 Adam and Eve and Pinch Me 2001
34 The Blood Doctor 2002
35 The Rottweiler 2003
36 13 Steps Down 2004
37 The Thief (Short Story) 2005
38 The Water's Lovely 2006
39 Portobello 2008
40 Birthday Present 2008
41 Tigerlily's Orchids 2010
42 The Child's Child 2012
43 The St. Zita Society 2012
44 Archie and Archie (Short Story) 2013
45 The Girl Next Door 2014
46 Dark Corners 2015
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Author Ruth Rendell was born Ruth Barbara Grasemann on February 17, 1930, in South Essex (what is now considered as Greater London). Both of her parents worked as teachers. After she finished high school, she became a feature writer for her local paper in Essex, which is called the Chigwell Times. Rendell was forced to quit when she filed a story about a sports club dinner that she did not go to, and she did not include the part where the speaker died midway through giving his speech. While working as a news writer, she met Don Rendell, and they would get married when she was only twenty years old. They would have a son in the year 1953. They divorced in the year 1975, but would get married to each other again just two years later. In 1996, she was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was given the title of Baroness Rendell of Babergh the next year when she was made a life peer. Don died from prostate cancer in the year 1999. Ruth Rendell passed away on May 2, 2015 at the age of 85 in London, England, after having a stroke in January of the same year.

The author we know and love as Ruth Rendell was born Ruth Barbara Grasemann in north east London, in the borough of South Woodford. Both of Rendell’s parents were teachers, her mother was Swedish and her father English. Thanks to their, Rendell was multilingual, being able to speak Swedish and Danish, as well as her native tongue of English.

Upon finishing high school, eschewing further education, Rendell went straight to work as a writer for the Chigwell Times, which was Rendell’s local newspaper at the time, after her parents moved from South Woodford to Loughton in Essex during her formative years. Unfortunately for Rendell, she caught up in a minor scandal, and was forced to hand in her resignation, after she faked a report on a sports club’s dinner. Rendell did not attend the dinner, and so she neglected to mention that the after-dinner speaker had actually died before the completion of their speech. Needless to stay, Rendell’s lie was found out.

The first novel Ruth Rendell had published was From Doon with Death, which was also the first book in the Inspector Wexford series of novels. Rendell would go on to write 23 more books in the Inspsector Wexford series of books, and he would become one of the best-loved characters in British crime fiction.

However, although the Inspector Wexford series of books gained Rendell substantial commercial success, it was her standalone books that won her critical accolades. Rendell’s first major award came in 1976 for the novels A Demon in My View, which won the Gold Dagger for Fiction, the first of six Dagger awards Rendell would win during her lifetime. A Demon in My View focuses on a man who apparently quiet and inauspicious life, who keeps a mannqeuin in his cellar which he strangles in order to stave off his desire to kill. When a turn of events leads to the mannequin being burned in a bonfire, the man murderous tendencies come to the fore. A Demon in My View was also adapted for the big screen, with Anthony Perkins taking the lead role.

Rendell would win her second Dagger, this time a Silver Dagger, in 1984 for her novel The Tree of Hands. This would be followed by a Gold Dagger in 1986 for Live Flesh, and then another Gold Dagger in 1987 for A Fatal Inversion. Another Gold Dagger was to follow in 1991 for King Solomon’s Carpet, and at same ceremony she was presented with the Diamond Dagger for a Lifetime’s Achievement. This was to be Rendell’s last Dagger award, although she was nominated for several other awards in later years.

Perhaps Ruth Rendell’s greatest awards outside of those for her work were her CBE and then her life peerage as Baroness Rendell of Babergh.

On May 2nd 2015, Ruth Rendell passed away, having not fully recovered from a stroke she had suffered earlier in the year.

Ruth Rendell wrote the “Inspector Wexford” series (she even wrote a book of short stories about this character) and some stand alone work. Her work is from the murder mystery and psychological thriller. Rendell preferred to focus on psychology and character, rather than police procedure in her work. She also wrote under the name of Barbara Vine, writing novels that jumped into the minds of the bad guy. Her first novel published was actually the third that she wrote, it was called “From Doon with Death” and was published in 1964. John Long bought the novel for 75 pounds. It was the first that starred Inspector Wexford, who was based on Rendell herself.


She won the three Edgars, and the Silver, Gold, and the Cartier Diamond Daggers that the Crime Writers’ Association gives out. These are just some of the few that she won.


“The Ruth Rendell Mysteries”, a series that has 48 episodes that aired from 1987 until 2000, is an adaptation of the “Inspector Wexford” series.

“La Ceremonie” by Claude Chabrol, adapted from “A Judgement in Stone”, is one of the few movie adaptations that Rendell was satisfied with. This was also made into a filmed in 1986. Chabrol would also make “La Demoiselle”, which was adapted from “The Bridesmaid”.

“One Across, Two Down” was made into a film called “Diary of the Dead” in 1976.

“The Tree of Hands” was adapted two different times; including one time by Claude Miller (who wrote it and directed it). There are many other adaptations of Rendell’s work.


For those readers looking to get into novels by Ruth Rendell, this section will help with that. It will go over the novels “From Doon with Death” and “A New Lease of Death”.

From Doon with Death: This is the first novel in the “Inspector Wexford” series and was released in the year 1964. Margaret Parsons is just a timid housewife who lives in the town of Kingsmarkham. Her devotions include her husband, kitchen, and her garden. She is brutally murdered, strangled, and her body is left in the nearby woods. Why would someone kill a woman that had no secrets?

Inspector Wexford, who is the formidable chief of police, is baffled, but then he finds some rare books. These books are inscribed by a passionate lover that only identifies himself as Doon. Wexford digs deeper into her past and the community. He builds the case and finds a surprising killer.

A New Lease of Death: This is the second novel in the “Inspector Wexford” series and was released in the year 1967. You never forget an old lady getting bludgeoned to death, especially when it is the first murder case you investigate.

Wexford believed that he had solved the murder of Mrs. Primero fifteen years back. There was no real puzzle in the case. Everyone knew the killer had to be Painter, who did odd jobs for the woman. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind about it.

A man named Henry Archery is engaged to the daughter of Painter, and he is unable to let the past be the past. He would like to prove Wexford wrong. When he talks to the witnesses that were questioned, he finds more than just old ghosts.

Ruth Rendell FAQs

Q: When was Ruth Rendell born?

A: Ruth Rendell was born in February 17th 1930.

Q: When did Ruth Rendell die?

A: Ruth Rendell passed away on May 2nd 2015.

Q: Did Ruth Rendell have a pen name?

A: Ruth Rendell wrote several novels under the pen name of Barbara Vine.

Q: How many Crime Writers’ Association Dagger awards did Ruth Rendell win?

A: In total, Ruth Rendell won six Crime Writers’ Assocation Dagger awards, including one Diamond Dagger, which is a Lifetime Achievement Award in the field of crime fiction.