Harm Done - An Inspector Wexford Mystery

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9780091800802: Harm Done - An Inspector Wexford Mystery

On the day Lizzie came back from the dead, the police and her family and neighbors had already begun to search for her body. She had been missing for three days. Never an articulate child, between her confusion and amnesia she could not plausibly describe where she'd been or why she'd been away. Soon after, a convicted pedophile is released back into the community, adding to the already heightened fears of parents in the Muriel Campden Estate where he lives. Then the child of a wealthy executive disappears, and not long after, a suspect in the kidnapping is found stabbed to death.

Chief Inspector Wexford is charged with solving the mysterious disappearances, protecting a pedophile, and catching a killer. As he searches for connections, he finds himself focusing on domestic violence. His daughter, Sylvia, a social worker, has come to work nearby in a refuge for battered women called The Hide. Her marriage is also strained, although her husband has never raised a hand to her. Others in Kingsmarkham are not so fortunate. As Wexford moves closer to the truth, he confronts the discomfiting lesson that when it comes to the inner life of families, justice is rarely as straightforward as the letter of the law.

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Review:

In Harm Done, Rendell has added a remarkable strand of acute social commentary to a book that still functions as an utterly compelling piece of detective fiction. In exploring the controversial subject of pedophilia, she takes the mainstay of her work--the problems of modern life--to a level of passion and commitment that gives the book a truly powerful underpinning.

Back in the familiar Sussex town of Kingsmarkham, Rendell's dogged sleuth Wexford is investigating the strange abductions of two young girls: Rachel, a bright middle-class student, and Lizzie, a mentally disabled 16-year-old living with her unsympathetic parents on a grim council estate. When both girls return home, apparently unharmed, Wexford is faced with a curious mystery: what really happened to them? As Wexford begins to uncover the disturbing truth, the dark psychological world that Rendell is so adroit at exploring suddenly comes into focus. And her gift for sharp but concise characterization remains untouchable, as in the case of a reluctant witness: '''We don't talk about that sort of thing.' She very nearly but not quite tossed her head." --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk

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