15: An Unkindness of Ravens

An Unkindness of Ravens by Ruth Rendell

Picked this up at the library book sale earlier this year.

This was my first Ruth Rendell writing as Ruth Rendell book, but I’ve previously read several of her Barbara Vine books: Grasshopper, The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy, Asta’s Book, and No Night is Too Long.

The Unkindness of Ravens was a standard police procedural, featuring a bunch of characters who are apparently regulars, including the main detective, Chief Inspector Wexford.  The Barbara Vine books are more dark, psychological thrillers. I think I prefer those, but this was an entertaining mystery nonetheless. I do love police procedurals.

Anyhow, the plot involves a husband who’s vanished (things aren’t what they seem… naturally!) and a group of militant feminists (really!). It was written in 1985, and a typewritten note / typewriter is one of the clues, so there was a somewhat amusing discussion of the idiosyncrasies of typewriters.

A bit of an aside, but that ties into something I was thinking about recently. You know how people always say technology immediately makes a book/movie feel “dated”? You know, in a pejorative way. I don’t think that’s always the case. I think 20-year-old books/movies that were set in present-day and used present-day technology (at the time) don’t feel “dated.” It’s more like… they feel like period pieces. The technology is right for the time period, so it doesn’t stand out particularly. Or, you notice it but in huh, I’d forgotten/didn’t know that kind of way. That’s how this book felt.

Where technology does end up feeling really dated is in books/movies that are supposed to be set in the future. Yeah, 20 years later, that’s almost always hysterical.

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