Setting: Kingsmarkham and London, England.
Story: Retired from the police, former Inspector Wexford is invited to return as a consultant to help investigate the case of several bodies found in a cellar.
Good Stuff: Wexford is cranky, quirky and interesting. His internal musings on the people around him, and their actions, is a key part of the entertainment.
Not So Good Stuff: The book is a partial sequel to Rendell’s 1990’s book A Sight For Sore Eyes and, to get the best out of The Vault, it appears you should read the earlier book first. The book gets from A to Z, but it takes its time; this is genteel crime writing (though there is a hard edge) with no frantic activity, and no sense of urgency. It may be more realistic, but it often threatens to fall into a big, black, bottomless hole of boredom. Almost, but not quite. Rendell has a good grasp of human interaction, but she didn’t feel the need to back it up with much complexity of plotting.
There’s a side story to the main event. This involves Wexford’s own family. The spiel on the cover talks about his search for the truth becoming more complicated, but that’s rubbish. There’s no material impact on his investigation, and the reader – well, this one at least – is left wondering what the point of the side story is. In short, this did not work for me.