The Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell


Decades ago, when Reginald Wexford was at the beginning of his police career, he suspected Eric Targo of being a serial killer. However, he didn't have one shred of evidence, except a hunch, a gut feeling. Years later he sees Targo enter a house, a home of family Rahman.

Tamima Rahman decides to leave school at sixteen. Her teacher is worried by Tamima's decision, she even thinks of the family trying to force Tamima into marriage. She turns to Wexford for help, even though she's got nothing more than a gut feeling, not much different than his was so many years ago. However, it seems he doesn't take her too seriously until Tamima goes missing. 

There are two story-lines in the novel, as well as two time-lines. There are Wexford's memories of his youth, when almost no one drunk wine and people never ended a phone call with "I love you". Except in big cities there were no immigrants. Nevertheless, Eric Targo is still as elusive as he was, he is still conscious of Wexford's obsession with him being the murderer. Although I didn't expect the ending of the murder investigation to turn out the way it did, it didn't blow me away. Tamima's story turned out to be pretty much ordinary, and it has nothing to do with traditional Muslim customs or forced marriages. I sort of expected it to turn out that way. 

Even though The Monster in the Box is a piece of crime fiction, I found the main protagonists to be changes caused by time. Wexford's world changed, as well as the way people live. However, people seem not to be able to follow the changes. This book is about changes, differences, prejudice and obsession. It was a good read, but I much prefer Ruth Rendell's older works. As in her other novels, there are two story-lines intertwining and finally merging together. And there's a feeling of everything falling into its proper place, however I didn't find it as powerful as in her older novels.

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Pred desetletji, ko je Reginald Wexford začenjal kariero na policiji, je v preiskavi serije umorov sumil Erica Targa, la da mu nikakor ni mogel ničesar dokazati. Vse, na kar se je lahko zanesel, je bil nejasen občutek, ki ga niti ni mogel prav opredeliti. Za dokaz vsekakor premalo. Veliko kasneje spet sreča Erica Targa. Vidi ga vstopiti v hišo, v kateri stanuje družina Rahman. Njihova hčerka Tamima se, čeprav je odlična učenka, odloči pri šestnajstih zapustiti šolo. Njeni učiteljici se zdi to nenavadno, meni, da je škoda, da bi se Tamima prenehala izobraževati. Gre celo tako daleč, da osumi dekletove starše, da pritiskajo nanjo, da jo želijo prisilno poročiti. Podobno kot Wexford pred desetletji, tudi ona nima nobenega dokaza. Samo občutek. Čeprav je občutek enak kot njegov, se zdi, da je Wexford ne jemlje pretirano resno, dokler Tamima ne izgine.

V zgodbi se izmenjavata preteklost, z Wexfordovimi spomini, in sedanjost, zaradi česar pridejo do izraza razlike, ki jih v družbi povzroči čas. Spominja se svoje mladosti, kako so ljudje takrat živeli, nihče ni pil vina in nihče ni končeval telefonskega pogovora z "ljubim te". Razen v velikih mestih, ni bilo priseljencev. Eric Targo je še vedno enako izmuzljiv kot prej, še vedno se zaveda Wexfordove obsedenosti z njim, njegovo izzivanje pa je podobno igri mačke z mišjo. Kar zadeva umore, sicer nisem pričakovala takega razpleta, vendar me kljub temu ni ravno vrgel iz tira. Tamimino izginotje pa se izkaže za veliko bolj prozaičnega in nima čisto nič opraviti z orientalskimi navadami, tradicionalnim načinom življenja in prisilnimi porokami.

Ne glede na preiskovanje umorov in iskanje pogrešanega dekleta, se mi zdi, da so v prvem planu zgodbe spremembe. Družba in navade se spreminjajo, človek pa je vedno manj zmožen slediti spremembam. Sobivanje različnih kultur poudari predsodke, nasprotja in nestrpnost. Knjiga mi je bila všeč, vendar se mi zdijo starejša dela Ruth Rendell boljša. Tudi v tem romanu se prepletata dve na videz nepovezani zgodbi, ki se združita. Na koncu imamo občutek, da se vse postavi na svoje mesto, čeprav se mi zdi, da tokrat manj intenzivno kot v njenih starejših romanih. 


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