Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content
Emmys 2017
Every unforgettable moment, every gorgeous dress.Click here


Mystery writer Ruth Rendell dies at 85

The best-selling British author was beloved for her Inspector Wexford series

Posted on

Louis Monier/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

British author Ruth Rendell, who wrote 24 crime mysteries in her Inspector Wexford series as well as numerous other novels and short stories, died today at age 85. She had suffered a stroke in January.

Rendell published her first book, From Doon With Death, in 1964, introducing the smart, irascible chief inspector Reginald Wexford, and followed it with more than 60 books in the mystery genre. Her last Wexford novel, No Man’s Nightingale, was released in 2013. Dark Corners, her latest book, will be published in the fall. She also wrote 14 darker-themed psychological thrillers under the pen name Barbara Vine.

Rendell was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1996 and the next year was named to the upper house of parliament for the Labor Party. Labour leader Ed Miliband said in a statement, “Ruth Rendell was an outstanding and hugely popular figure in British literature and, for the last 18 years, served the Labour Party in the House of Lords with great loyalty and passion.”

Her work was translated into 20 languages and yielded an acclaimed and long-running television series titled The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (1987-2000), based on the Wexford series. And in 1997 her book Live Flesh was adapted into a Spanish-language thriller directed by Pedro Almodóvar and starring Javier Bardem.