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‘Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,’ he said aloud, having an Omar Khayam moment as he inserted the key into his front door, ‘before we too into the dust descend,’ and walked in to meet and kiss Dora who stood on the other side of it, waiting for him.
from: No Man’s Nightingale
Mid of the 60s we started learning about DCI Wexford’s investigations concerning crime of all shades, especially murder. Then he is 52 years old and lives in the English countryside with his wife and his daughters … the daughters already grown-up trying their very own lives.
We follow Wexford for the next fifteen to twenty years (or so) in his timeframe. (In reality about 50 years are covered …) He finally retires and has some activities resp. consultancy agreements during his retirement when he is mid to end of his 60s. Almost all his cases happen in Kingsmarkham, a fictitious market town in the south of England.
What to expect?
Is Wexford one of these lone wolves who walk about, thinking, asking strange questions about negligibilities, drawing deductions for themselves and finally assembling all suspects to present the solution?
Does Wexford live in a charming cottage in the English countryside where always some eccentric people cause trouble and murder because of … whatever? (You certainly know these cosy neighborhoods and novels …)
Is Wexford one of these sad and unhappy police officers who have seen too many corpses and cases, too many miscarriages of justice, too much wretchedness … which only can be endured with lots of alcohol?
Wexford lives a rather unexceptional, but happy life in an unexceptional small town. There are traditional life and settings, there are new buildings and welfare cases. There are well-off people, even rich ones, there is the broad middle class – and there is the working class and human welfare cases. Wexford manages them all.
Wexford relies mainly on Mike Burden, his friend, assistant and finally successor in his job. (… and there are of course more police officers …). There is a small team at Kingsmarkham dealing with all incidents – and this team is free from any rat-race activities and schemes. Nevertheless nothing is as smooth as it seems …
Taking into account that the novels start in the 60s it isn’t surprising that all seems a little unagitated: there are no smartphones (in the beginning), no computers, no gangs dealing with drugs and young girls from Eastern Europe. Nevertheless all the cases are thrilling.
I read all the novels when they were published, most of them in the 80s. Most of them deal with crime among family and friends starting at low level, but get out of control rather soon. It’s always because amateurs are ruling the game. Furthermore suddenly lives are stirred up from the outside and Wexford has to speculate about the reality hidden by the appearances. It’s always thrilling with lots of twists.
In short: Wexford has always to prepare for deep dives into the lives of the victims as well as of the suspects and he learns a lot about the mental abyss opening up when – especially social – lives are in danger of getting destroyed.