Black residents are highly visible in a small English country town like Kingsmarkham. Yet Dr. and Mrs. Akande's daughter, Melanie, fresh from university but a disappointment to her career-driven parents, has disappeared into thin air. She was last seen at the Employment Centre, where she has just signed on for social assistance, when she inexplicably vanished. Now Inspector Wexford finds himself with an investigation complicated by Melanie's feckless boyfriend, his own eye for a too-pretty employment counsellor, and a bizarrely incompetent burglar...as well as a systematic adulterer, a vengeful wife, a treacly politician... and a perplexing corpse. The case will take Wexford from a sunny, soigne garden party to the greyness of unemployment in a derelict shack and finally onto the streets. Here his endless fascination with the peculiarities of human nature leads him from a volatile mix of motives and suspects straight into an explosion of snobbery, sexism, racism--and brutal murder in blood both hot and cold.
Wexford's changing world, August 22, 2001 Reviewer: A reader from Sweden As has been pointed out by other reviewers, Ruth Rendell's "Simisola" combines the whodunit with a discussion of social issues. Even though the plot of the former is slightly overworked - an impressive construction, lacking somewhat in credibility - the connection is realistic and effective. Wexford's rather endearing, if unsuccessful attempts at "colourblindness", add neat twists and turns in his (more successful) attempts at solving the criminal problem. Blacks are, for example, not the only group suffering from the effects of prejudice here. Even though a radical might criticize Rendell for mainly (but not exclusively) dealing with how whites do and should perceive blacks, Wexford's progress should be of interest to members of any race. And if non-British readers believe that the specific form of social evil at the heart of the story is limited to Britain, well, better take a closer look at your own society... Again, the plot is overworked. Not that the mystery is all that complicated or fantastic, but the number of cleverly misleading clues, likely suspects, and distracting detours is rather too much for me. Clever but slightly artificial. Still, a favourite with me. --This text refers to the Paperback edition