Harm Done (Chief Inspector Wexford Series #18)

Harm Done (Chief Inspector Wexford Series #18)

by Ruth Rendell

Hardcover(Large Print)

$24.63 $26.95 Save 9% Current price is $24.63, Original price is $26.95. You Save 9%. View All Available Formats & Editions


The search for the body commenced. Then the victim walked into town.

Behind the picture-postcard façade of Kingsmarkham lies a community rife with violence, betrayal, and a taste for vengeance. When sixteen-year-old Lizzie Cromwell reappears no one knows where she has been, including Lizzie herself. Inspector Wexford thinks she was with a boyfriend. But the disappearance of a three-year-old girl casts a more ominous light on events. And when the public's outrage turns toward a recently released pederast and another suspect turns up stabbed to death, Wexford must try to unravel the mystery before any more bodies appear, and before a mob of local vigilantes metes out a rough justice to their least favorite suspect. In Harm Done, the violence is near at hand, and evil lies just a few doors down the block.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781568958057
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 12/28/1999
Series: Chief Inspector Wexford Series , #18
Edition description: Large Print

About the Author

Ruth Rendell is the author of Road Rage, The Keys to the Street, Bloodlines, Simisola, and The Crocodile Bird. She is the winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. She is also the recipient of three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America and four Gold Daggers from Great Britain’s Crime Writers Association. In 1997, she was named a life peer in the House of Lords. Ruth Rendell also writes mysteries under the name of Barbara Vine, of which A Dark Adapted Eye is the most famous. She lives in England.

Date of Birth:

February 17, 1930

Place of Birth:

London, England


Loughton County High School for Girls, Essex

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1

On the day Lizzie came back from the dead the police and her family and neighbors had already begun the search for her body. They worked on the open countryside between Kingsmarkham and Myringham, combing the hillsides and beating through the woods. It was April but cold and wet, and a sharp northeast wind was blowing. Their task was not a pleasant one; no one laughed or joked and there was little talking.
Lizzie's stepfather was among the searchers, but her mother was too upset to leave the house. The evening before, the two of them had appeared on television to appeal for Lizzie to come home, for her abductor or attacker, whatever he might be, to release her. Her mother said she was only sixteen, which was already known, and that she had learning difficulties, which was not. Her stepfather was a lot younger than her mother, perhaps ten years, and looked very young. He had long hair and a beard and wore several earrings, all in the same ear. After the television appearance several people phoned Kingsmarkham Police Station and opined that Colin Crowne had murdered his stepdaughter. One said Colin had buried her on the building site down York Street, a quarter of a mile down the road from where the Crownes and Lizzie lived on the Muriel Campden Estate. Another told Detective Sergeant Vine that she had heard Colin Crowne threaten to kill Lizzie "because she was as thick as two planks."

"Those folks as go on telly to talk about their missing kids," said a caller who refused to give her name, "they're always the guilty ones. It's always the dad. I've seen it time and time again. If you don't know that, you've no business being in the police."

Chief Inspector Wexford thought she was dead. Not because of what the anonymous caller said, but because all the evidence pointed that way. Lizzie had no boyfriend, she was not at all precocious, she had a low IQ and was rather slow and timid. Three evenings before, she had gone with some friends on the bus to the cinema in Myringham, but at the end of the film the other two girls had left her to come home alone. They had asked her to come clubbing with them but Lizzie had said her mother would be worried--the friends thought Lizzie herself was worried at the idea--and they left her at the bus stop. It was just before eight-thirty and getting dark. She should have been home in Kingsmarkham by nine-fifteen, but she didn't come home at all. At midnight her mother had phoned the police.

If she had been, well, a different sort of girl, Wexford wouldn't have paid so much attention. If she had been more like her friends. He hesitated about the phrase he used even in his own mind, for he liked to keep to his personal brand of political correctness in his thoughts as well as his speech. Not to be absurd about it, not to use ridiculous expressions like intellectually challenged, but not to be insensitive either and call a girl such as Lizzie Cromwell mentally handicapped or retarded. Besides, she wasn't either of those things, she could read and write, more or less, she had a certain measure of independence and went about on her own. In daylight, at any rate. But she wasn't fit just the same to be left alone after dark on a lonely road. Come to that, what girl was?

So he thought she was dead. Murdered by someone. What he had seen of Colin Crowne he hadn't much liked, but he had no reason to suspect him of killing his stepdaughter. True, some years before he married Debbie Cromwell, Crowne had been convicted of assault on a man outside a pub, and he had another conviction for taking and driving away--in other words, stealing--a car. But what did all that amount to? Not much. It was more likely that someone had stopped and offered Lizzie a lift.

"Would she accept a lift from a stranger?" Vine had asked Debbie Crowne.

"Sometimes it's hard to make her like understand things," Lizzie's mother had said. "She'll sort of say yes and no and smile--she smiles a lot, she's a happy kid--but you don't know if it's like sunk in. Do you, Col?"

"I've told her never talk to strangers," said Colin Crowne. "I've told her till I'm blue in the face, but what do I get? A smile and a nod and another smile, then she'll just say something else, something loony, like the sun's shining or what's for tea."

"Not loony, Col," said the mother, obviously hurt.

"You know what I mean."

So when she had been gone three nights and it was the morning of the third day, Colin Crowne and the neighbors on either side of the Crownes on the Muriel Campden Estate started searching for Lizzie. Wexford had already talked to her friends and the driver of the bus she should have been on but hadn't been on, and Inspector Burden and Sergeant Vine had talked to dozens of motorists who used that road daily around about that time. When the rain became torrential, which happened at about four in the afternoon, they called off the search for that day, but they were set to begin again at first light. Taking DC Lynn Fancourt with him, Wexford went over to Puck Road for another talk with Colin and Debbie Crowne.

When it was built in the sixties, on an open space that would now be called a "green field area," between the top of York Street and the western side of Glebe Road, the three streets and block of flats on a green in the midst of them, it had been called the York Estate. The then chairman of the housing committee, who had done A Midsummer Night's Dream for his school certificate and was proud of the knowledge thus gained, named the streets after characters in that comedy, Oberon, Titania, and Puck.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Harm Done (Chief Inspector Wexford Series #18) 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
dw0rd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I started listening, I realized I'd heard this book before. I kept at it because I couldn't remember all the book's many characters and subplots. I normally don't do this but found it much easier to follow while multi-tasking. This Inspector Wexford mystery was still enjoyable the second time around. It's always interesting to remember the many continuing characters and running plots in the Wexford books. I may re-read, that is, re-hear, more books now.
edecklund on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I started listening, I realized I'd heard this book before. I kept at it because I couldn't remember all the book's many characters and subplots. I normally don't do this but found it much easier to follow while multi-tasking. This Inspector Wexford mystery was still enjoyable the second time around. It's always interesting to remember the many continuing characters and running plots in the Wexford books. I may re-read, that is, re-hear, more books now.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspector Wexford forges ahead, this time into three ambiguous reaches of the criminal landscape, of which two are particularly nasty and particularly ambiguous. This complex novel interweaves three stories -- the abduction and then return of two young women, the return of a convicted pedophile to his home after he has served his time, and the case of an abused wife that finally ends in murder. All of this, of course, is interlaced with developments in Wexford's own life, in this case mostly having to do with his relationship with his daughter Sylvia. I won't go into detail, to avoid playing the spoiler, but two of the stories raise really difficult questions about right and wrong. How many detective writers make you think, while simultaneously amusing you and producing a bang up mystery? My only regret about Ruth Rendell is that I don't have more of her books still left to read.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There was a lot happening in this book, which slightly made up for the fact that the 'main mystery' was quite poor. It was unravelled as usual by Wexford and I found myself thinking, 'Eh? So that's it, is it?'. Other strands of the plot dealt with the (at the time) rather topical issue of vigilantes tracking down suspected paedophiles. The novel takes a good look at both sides of this issue, and whilst I had no children when I read this book, I have now and I suspect I would see things differently. A thought provoking read, not necessarily the best whodunnit.
bohemima on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rendell manages to mix a lot of social commentary into her detective series featuring Inspector Wexford. I found the plot, especially the section involving the pedophile, very difficult to follow. That didn't matter too much, however, as the reader is quickly inveigled into considering larger moral and social questions in this work. Good job.
jrtanworth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent development of characters, realistic depiction of social problems embedded in mystery, unusual plot lines. Another excellent Rendell effort.
Clueless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that grabs you by the lapels and yanks you in. How ambivalent would you be if you were a cop who had to protect a paroled child molester?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Wong More than 1 year ago
Good book overall but fell short of the exciting beginning. A fun read and I may try another one of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is nothing slow moving and boring about this novel. It is so absorbing and readable that the pages practically turn themselves. If you like the intelligent british detective story then you will adore Wexford. Let's you try and solve the mystery piece by piece while there is an ongoing subplot of the Chief Inspector's family. Loved it, Loved it, Loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read about 1 novel every 2 weeks but felt like I was riding on the back of a snail while 'trying' to get through this book. Slow paced, I kept waiting for a surprise around the corner, fireworks, something big to happen that you would expect to find in a 'mystery novel', but there never was anything. Draggy, choppy, boring, no thrill or roller coaster ride with this one. Extremely disappointing! Don't think I'd waste my time reading any of Ms. Rendell's other novels.