Tributes have been paid from across the trade to crime writer Ruth Rendell, described as an “insightful and elegant observer of society”.
Rendell died on Saturday (2nd May) at the age of 85. She had been admitted to hospital in January after suffering a critical stroke.
The writer, who was published by Penguin Random House’s Hutchinson since 1964, also wrote 14 books under the penname Barbara Vine for Penguin.
Hutchinson said it was “devastated” by the loss of Rendell.
Baroness Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House UK, said: “Ruth was much admired by the whole publishing industry for her brilliant body of work. An insightful and elegant observer of society, many of her award winning thrillers and psychological murder mysteries highlighted the causes she cared so deeply about.
“Ruth also became one of the first New Labour working peers continuing to effect change through the House of Lords most particularly on the issue of FGM.
“Ruth was a great writer, a campaigner for social justice, a proud mother and grandmother, a generous and loyal friend and probably the best read person I have ever met. Her many close friends in publishing and the House of Lords will greatly miss her wonderful company and her truly unique contribution to our lives.”
Susan Sandon, m.d. of Cornerstone, said: “Ruth was beloved as an author and a friend - to me, and to so many of us. Her writing and her company enriched all our lives. Erudite, wise and endlessly entertaining, she will be so greatly missed.”
Sheila O'Reilly, owner of Dulwich Books, said: "Ruth Rendell was probably best known for her crime novels and booksellers always knew they had a bestseller with any new Inspector Wexford book.
"I, however, most admired her tireless work and campaigns in the House of Lords which she used to great effect to raise public awareness and help pass a law preventing girls being sent abroad for female genital mutilation. She took her duties there seriously appreciating that she could make a difference to people lives by using her place to best effect."
Joseph Knobbs, crime fiction buyer at Waterstones, said: "Ruth Rendell was one of the all-time greats and to lose her so soon after PD James feels like an injustice.
"She made the most of her time, though, writing bestsellers that helped redefine what crime fiction could be. Her influence will be felt in the generations of writers she influenced, and there’ll always be a place for her books in Waterstones."
Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles, said: "You could see the joy of anticipation on readers' faces when they came in to buy the new Ruth Rendell: hers was marque of quality matched by very few authors. She continued a tradition of great British female crime writing, alongside authors such as Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers and PD James. The layers of psychological complexity we see in recent hits such as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train owe so much to her finest creation, Inspector Wexford: British crime writing just wouldn't been as loved and respected as it is worldwide without her contribution."
Rendell’s final novel, Dark Corners, is scheduled for publication in October 2015.
The author’s debut novel was From Doon With Death, which introduced her popular detective, Inspector Reginald Wexford. The character featured in 24 subsequent novels.
Rendell wrote 60 bestselling novels and won a number of awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for 1976’s best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986 and the Sunday Times Literary Award in 1990.
In 2013 she was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing.
In 1996 she was made a CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.
In 2014, Hutchinson published a 50th anniversary edition of From Doon With Death.
Picture: Jerry Bauer