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Sins of the Fathers: An Inspector Wexford…

Sins of the Fathers: An Inspector Wexford Mystery (Formerly Titled : a New… (original 1967; edition 1986)

by Ruth Rendell

Series: Inspector Wexford (2)

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586728,238 (3.52)16
It was a brutal, vicious crime--and sixteen years old. A helpless old woman battered to death with an axe. Harry Painter hung for it, and Chief Inspector Wexford is certain they executed the right man. But Reverend Archery has doubts--because his son wants to marry the murderer's beautiful, brilliant daughter. He begins unravelling the past, only to discover that murder breeds murder--and often conceals even deeper secrets.… (more)
Title:Sins of the Fathers: An Inspector Wexford Mystery (Formerly Titled : a New Lease of Death)
Authors:Ruth Rendell
Info:Ballantine Books (1986), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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A New Lease of Death by Ruth Rendell (1967)



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
(19) The second in the Inspector Wexford series - I have loved many of Ruth Rendell's stand alone mysteries - 'A Judgement in Stone' and a 'Dark Adapted Eye' stand out as really excellent. So far the Wexford series is not nearly as good, but still enjoyable nonetheless. In this one, a minister from a nearby county pays a visit to Wexford and company as his son wants to marry the daughter of a man Wexford had hung for murder many years before. The daughter is a lovely girl reading English at Oxford - how could the blood of murderer run in her veins? Her mother swears the girl's father is innocent - thus an old case is reinvestigated. Not by Wexford this time, but by Reverend Archery who displaces Wexford as the protagonist.

Similar to the first mystery - all of a sudden, towards the end, cryptic conversations take place quickly and it becomes clear that the protagonist has figured things out, even if the reader hasn't. And this reader had not. I was lead astray by red herrings the author planted. And while I usually love to get things wrong - in this case, the whodunnit wasn't oh so shocking after all. But, I will say no more.

I will continue the series - I think I have found a nice substitute for Kinsey Millhone. I suspect Grafton took some inspiration from Rendell in fact -- I seem to recall a similar plot line. . .

However, the best part about reading Ruth Rendell is that her prose is quite good. Nothing fancy, but her novels are atmospheric and well-written regardless of the genre. ( )
  jhowell | Apr 21, 2019 |
Because his son wants to marry the daughter of the man who was convicted of the murder and hung, Henry Archery attempts to re-open Wexford's first murder case from 16 years ago.

The resolution did cross my mind early on, though I was soon distracted away from it. Still, I must have missed something because I don't really see how the characters arrived at that deduction. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Jul 15, 2018 |
The second Inspector Wexford adventure. A clergyman sets out to re-open an old murder case, hoping to prove that the man executed for the crime was not guilty, thereby removing what he perceives as an insurmountable obstacle to his son's marriage to the convict's daughter. Lots of thorny moral dilemmas, soul searching and red herrings. Not at all a bad place to start if you've never read Rendell before.
September 23, 2014 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Aug 3, 2016 |
A bit disappointing after the Barbara Vine book. Inspector Wexford was a peripheral character, the main being a rather annoying vicar. ( )
  Marie-Clare | Aug 15, 2011 |
In many ways this is vintage Rendell. It is nearly as good as Rendell's best, and yet it is only #2 in her Wexford series. And yet it goes back 16 years to when Wexford was new in the job. It was his first investigation on his own.

We had been listening to it in the car, and I had to bring it inside to finish the final CD - that's how good it is. The characters are strong, and beautifully depicted by Nigel Anthony's narration. There's a feeling of the empathy that filters through in the author's description of her characters.

The Reverend Archery is at first bitterly opposed to his son's marriage to the daughter of a hanged murderer but he comes to a point where he desperately wants to prove Wexford was wrong.

The structure of the novel is interesting: at the beginning of each chapter there is a biblical quotation, in keeping with the fact that Reverend Archery is playing the role of amateur sleuth. Wexford pops in and out of the story, even takes a weekend off during Archery's investigation. Wexford's offsider Burden plays a couple of cameo roles. It is Archery who reveals the final story.

An interesting picture emerges of Wexford: incorruptible, sympathetic, the detective who relies on logic not feelings. There are some heavy psychological threads in this novel - almost a presage of what Rendell would achieve in her Barbara Vine books.

The murder had long term effects on Painter's own child, and on the child who found the body. They were not to meet again for 16 years. Both titles are a play on words. Normally we talk about " a new lease of life" but what does re-opening an old murder case do but give death a new lease?

The second title SINS OF THE FATHERS is also ambiguous, for there is more than one father who has sinned. How much should the children pay? Does the gene that makes you murder pass on into the children?

Deut. 5:9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me... ( )
  smik | Apr 4, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rendell, Ruthprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anthony, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Briganti, ChiaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warburton, HollyCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my Father and Simon
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It was five in the morning.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Sins of the Fathers, also published as A New Lease of Death
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