Picks and Pans Review: Kissing the Gunner's Daughter
Rendell's 15th Wexford mystery, the first in four years, starts with a hang as an off-duty detective sergeant is killed in a hank holdup. But it's with the next five bangs, resulting in three deaths at a grand old manor house in a middle-of-nowhere English forest, that we really settle in to enjoy the conundrums that confront Rendell's punctilious sleuth, Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford.
Motives and suspects abound. among them hitter housekeepers, a dim-witted cleaning woman, four young men attracted to Daisy, the 17-year-old heiress and sole survivor of the manor house murders, and Daisy's father, who hasn't seen her since she was a baby but who would have inherited the family fortune had she too died. And, of course, the bank and estate slayings may be linked.
Meanwhile Wexford's daughter, Sheila, is giving him more cause for worn than usual, threatening to give up her successful acting career for her latest beau, Augustine Casey, a postmodern novelist and pompous ass. Wexford transfers his fatherly instincts, leading him to take a more than professional interest in Daisy's case.
You don't guzzle Kissing the Gunner's Daughter. You sip it, savoring the subtle, sophisticated flavor, as rich as a cup of Earl Grey. (The Mysterious Press, $19.95)