I am really enjoying revisiting all the mystery writers I used to read a long time ago, some with old works, some with new stuff. Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell is an Inspector Wexford mystery, first published in 1983.
I definitely did not read it then, though I have long been an Inspector Wexford fan. He has been in China for a work conference, and is spending some time seeing the country. This is all set in the 1980s, so the book was contemporary at that time. It is almost all about the tourists with him, not much about actual China. Not long after they all return to England – one of the women on the trip, presented as rather starched, is murdered in the middle of the night.
Wexford runs, one by one, through an extensive list of suspects, each one obviously the killer at the point we turn our attention in that direction. At the end, and after much uncovering of other sins, it is a very peripheral character, though in plain sight all the time. And for a very ordinary motive, after we have looked at so many motives.
But the chase and discoveries, and watching Wexford wend his way – all that was great fun!