No Man's Nightingale
An Inspector Wexford Novel
A female vicar named Sarah Hussain is discovered strangled in her Kingsmarkham vicarage. Maxine, the gossipy cleaning woman who finds the body, happens to also be in the employ of former Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford and his wife. When called on by his old deputy, Wexford, who has taken to reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as a retirement project, leaps at the chance to tag along with the investigators. Wexford is intrigued by the unusual circumstances of the murder, but he’s also desperate to escape the chatty Maxine.
A single mother to a teenage girl, Hussain was a woman working in a male-dominated profession. Of mixed race and an outspoken church reformer, she had turned some in her congregation against her, including the conservative vicar’s warden. Could one of her enemies in the church have gone so far as to kill her? Or could it have been the elderly next-door gardener with a muddled alibi?
As Wexford searches the vicar’s house alongside the police, he sees a book, Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, lying on Hussain’s bedside table. Inside it is a letter serving as a bookmark. Without thinking much, Wexford puts it into his pocket. Wexford soon realizes he has made a grave error—he’s removed a piece of evidence from the crime scene. Yet what he finds inside begins to illuminate the murky past of Sarah Hussain. Is there more to her than meets the eye?
No Man’s Nightingale is Ruth Rendell’s masterful twenty-fourth installment in one of the great crime series of all time.
Read an Excerpt
MAXINE WAS PROUD of having three jobs. These days more and more people had none. She had no sympathy for them but congratulated herself on her own initiative. Two mornings a week she cleaned for Mrs. Wexford, two mornings for Mrs. Crocker, afternoons for two other Kingsmarkham women, did gardening and cleaned cars for Mr. Wexford and Dr. Crocker and babysat every evening where she was wanted for those young enough to need a baby-sitter. Cleaning she did for the women and gardening and car-washing for... see more