Crime writer Ruth Rendell dies aged 85

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell

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Best-selling crime writer Ruth Rendell died today aged 85, her publisher has said.

She was taken ill in January after suffering a stroke.

The 84-year-old, who also has a seat in the House Of Lords as a Labour peer, is best known for her series of novels featuring Chief Inspector Wexford.

The best-selling author was being looked after in hospital by her son.

In a statement, Hutchinson - Penguin Random House said Baroness Rendell of Babergh had suffered a stroke on 7 January.

With more than 60 titles to her name, Rendell’s last book was The Girl Next Door, which came out last year. It was published along with a 50th anniversary edition of her debut novel From Doon With Death, which saw Inspector Wexford make his debut.

Wexford has appeared in more than 20 novels - the last of which came out in 2013 - and were turned into The Ruth Rendell Mysteries for ITV, with the late George Baker playing the lead role for more than 10 years.

The writer described her character as a “big ugly man”, named after the Irish county where she had recently holidayed.

The taciturn inspector worked in Sussex and was prone to “feelings… about some small thing when a case was about to break, and the small thing always turned out to be vital and his hunch seldom wrong”.

She had recently finished work on a new novel, which is set to be published as planned in the autumn.

Rendell also wrote psychological crime thrillers under the pen name Barbara Vine.

In 1996 she was awarded a CBE and in 1997 she was made a life peer.

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