Best Man to Die (Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries) by Ruth Rendell

By Ruth Rendell

Who may have suspected that the fascinating stag celebration for the groom will be the prelude to the homicide of his shut good friend Charlie Hatton? And Charlie's loss of life used to be simply the 1st in a string of perplexing murders related to small-time gangsters, dishonest husbands, and unfastened girls. Now leader Inspector Wexford and his assistant sign up for forces with the groom to trace down a killer . . .

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Mate, it’s only my fun, but Jack and me heard that one our last term at school. And the sailor said, “Have it your own way but if we don’t we’ll never have kids”. Right? ’ ‘Don’t be like that,’ said Jack. Charlie had a knack for rubbing people up the wrong way. Funny he never fell foul of him. ’ ‘Can’t have that, Jack. Seven more doubles, Bill. Jack, I said put it away. I can afford it. There’s plenty more where that came from. ’ ‘No more for me,’ said the man whose joke Charlie had spoiled. He patted Jack’s shoulder and said good night while the others drank their whisky in an awkward silence.

My round, Jack. Don’t you take any notice of George. Marilyn’s a lovely girl and you’re a lucky man. ’ ‘His pyjamas more like,’ said George. ‘You ought to see them. Black nylon they are with a karate top. ’ said the barman patiently. ’ ‘Same again, Bill, and have one yourself. No, Jack, man is a monogamous animal and there’s no partnership on earth to touch a happy marriage. Especially when you’re starting off on the right foot like you and Marilyn. ’ Jack was in a hurry to gloss over that right foot and reproaching stuff.

He raised his hard little hand and brought it down on Jack’s resoundingly. ’ ‘You’ll get the chance all right. ’ Charlie wrinkled his nose and winked quickly. The shadows parted, he negotiated the stile. ’ The willows enclosed him. His shadow appeared again as the path rose and dipped. Jack heard him whistling, ‘Mabel, dear, listen here’ under the stars and then as the shadow was absorbed and lost in the many tree shadows, the whistle too faded and there was no sound but the gentle chatter of the stream, the Kingsbrook that flowed everlastingly over its bed of thin round stones.

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