Ruth Rendell Books

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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 Series

1From Doon With Death 1964Description / Buy
2Sins of the Fathers / A New Lease of Death 1967Description / Buy
3Wolf to the Slaughter 1967Description / Buy
4The Best Man to Die 1969Description / Buy
5A Guilty Thing Surprised 1970Description / Buy
6No More Dying Then 1971Description / Buy
7Murder Being Once Done 1972Description / Buy
8Some Lie and Some Die 1973Description / Buy
9Shake Hands Forever 1975Description / Buy
10A Sleeping Life 1978Description / Buy
11Death Notes / Put On By Cunning 1981Description / Buy
12Speaker of Mandarin 1983Description / Buy
13An Unkindness of Ravens 1985Description / Buy
14The Veiled One 1988Description / Buy
15Kissing the Gunner's Daughter 1992Description / Buy
16Simisola 1994Description / Buy
17Road Rage 1997Description / Buy
18Harm Done 1999Description / Buy
19The Babes in the Wood 2002Description / Buy
20End in Tears 2005Description / Buy
21Not in the Flesh 2007Description / Buy
22The Monster in the Box 2009Description / Buy
23The Vault 2011Description / Buy
24No Man's Nightingale 2013Description / Buy

Order of Inspector Wexford Collections Series

1Means of Evil 1979Description / Buy

Order of Ruth Rendell Standalone Novels

1To Fear a Painted Devil 1965Description / Buy
2Vanity Dies Hard 1966Description / Buy
3The Secret House Of Death 1968Description / Buy
4One Across, Two Down 1971Description / Buy
5The Face of Trespass 1974Description / Buy
6A Demon in My View 1976Description / Buy
7A Judgement in Stone 1977Description / Buy
8Make Death Love Me 1979Description / Buy
9The Lake of Darkness 1980Description / Buy
10Master of the Moor 1982Description / Buy
11The Killing Doll 1984Description / Buy
12The Tree of Hands 1984Description / Buy
13Live Flesh 1986Description / Buy
14A Dark-Adapted Eye (As: Barbara Vine) 1986Description / Buy
15Talking to Strange Men 1987Description / Buy
16A Fatal Inversion (As: Barbara Vine) 1987Description / Buy
17The House of Stairs (As: Barbara Vine) 1988Description / Buy
18The Bridesmaid 1989Description / Buy
19Going Wrong 1990Description / Buy
20Gallowglass (As: Barbara Vine) 1990Description / Buy
21King Solomon's Carpet (As: Barbara Vine) 1991Description / Buy
22The Crocodile Bird 1993Description / Buy
23Asta's Book (As: Barbara Vine) 1993Description / Buy
24No Night Is Too Long (As: Barbara Vine) 1994Description / Buy
25The Brimstone Wedding (As: Barbara Vine) 1995Description / Buy
26The Keys to the Street 1996Description / Buy
27A Sight for Sore Eyes 1998Description / Buy
28The Chimney Sweeper's Boy (As: Barbara Vine) 1998Description / Buy
29Grasshopper (As: Barbara Vine) 2000Description / Buy
30Adam and Eve and Pinch Me 2001Description / Buy
31The Blood Doctor (As: Barbara Vine) 2002Description / Buy
32The Rottweiler 2003Description / Buy
3313 Steps Down 2004Description / Buy
34Minotaur (As: Barbara Vine) 2005Description / Buy
35The Water's Lovely 2006Description / Buy
36Portobello 2008Description / Buy
37Birthday Present (As: Barbara Vine) 2008Description / Buy
38Tigerlily's Orchids 2010Description / Buy
39The Saint Zita Society 2012Description / Buy
40The Child's Child (As: Barbara Vine) 2012Description / Buy
41The Girl Next Door 2014Description / Buy
42Dark Corners 2015Description / Buy

Order of Ruth Rendell Short Stories/Novellas

1Heartstones (Short Story) 1987Description / Buy
2Thornapple (Short Story) 2000Description / Buy
3The Thief (Short Story) 2005Description / Buy

Order of Ruth Rendell Short Story Collections

1The Fallen Curtain 1976Description / Buy
2The Fever Tree 1982Description / Buy
3The New Girlfriend 1985Description / Buy
4Collected Short Stories 1989Description / Buy
5The Copper Peacock and Other Stories 1991Description / Buy
6Blood Lines 1995Description / Buy
7Piranha to Scurfy 2000Description / Buy
8Ruth Rendell: Short Stories 2006Description / Buy
9Collected Stories Vol 1 2006Description / Buy
10A Spot of Folly 2017Description / Buy

Order of Ruth Rendell Children's Books

1Archie and Archie (Short Story) 2013Description / Buy

Order of Ruth Rendell Non-Fiction Books

1Ruth Rendell's Suffolk 1992Description / Buy
2The Reason Why 1995Description / Buy

Order of World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories Series

1The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories 1 2000Description / Buy
2The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories 2 2000Description / Buy
3The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories 3 2002Description / Buy
4The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories 4 2003Description / Buy
5The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories 5 2004Description / Buy

Ruth Rendell Anthologies

1 The Web She Weaves1983Description / Buy
2 Mystery Cats1991Description / Buy
3 1st Culprit1992Description / Buy
4 Women of Mystery1992Description / Buy
5 The Year's 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories1992Description / Buy
6 3rd Culprit1994Description / Buy
7 Tales of Obsession1994Description / Buy
8 Murder by the Book1996Description / Buy
9 Win, Lose or Die1996Description / Buy
10 Crime After Crime1999Description / Buy
11 Crime Never Pays2001Description / Buy
12 The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories 32002Description / Buy
13 Unforgettable Ghost Stories by Women Writers2008Description / Buy
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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.

When Does The Next Ruth Rendell book come out?

Ruth Rendell doesn't seem to have an upcoming book. Their newest book is A Spot of Folly and was released on October, 5th 2017. It is the newest book in the Ruth Rendell Short Story Collections.

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