Ruth Rendell, the hugely influential English author of crime and psychological mystery novels, died Saturday in London. Rendell is perhaps best known as the creator of Inspector Wexford, though total sales of her work have surpassed 60 million around the world. She was 85 years old.
Rendell wrote more than 60 best sellers under her own name and the pen name Barbara Vance, starting with 1964's “From Doon to Death.” Others include “A Demon in My View,” “Live Flesh” and last year's “The Girl Next Door.” She was hospitalized in January after suffering a stroke.
“We are devastated by the loss of one of our best-loved authors,” Penguin Random House, Rendell's publisher, said in a statement announcing the news Saturday as quoted by the BBC. “Ruth was very much part of our publishing family and a friend to many at Penguin Random House. We will miss her enormously. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.”
Rendell's final novel, titled “Dark Corners,” is scheduled to be published in October.
Ruth Barbara Grasemann, Rendell's real name, was born in 1930 in South Woodford to two Swedish parents. She began her writing career as a reporter until she lost her job for writing about a dinner occasion that she didn't actually attend. Rendell's story didn't note that the dinner's main speaker died halfway through the meal.
Her novels are known for their dark psychological twists. “Not in the Flesh,” for instance, begins with the discovery of a buried human hand and descends into a story about genital mutilation.
She is survived by her son.