Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 362
In Harm Done, a novel in a series starring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, he is again the main character; Dora, his wife, and Sylvia, one of his two adult daughters, are also featured. The setting is Kingsmarkham, an English village.
Wexford (“Reggie” to his wife) is a police inspector in Kingsmarkham. A solid, respectable, honorable man just past middle age, Wexford is dedicated to the pursuit of justice. While some of his ideas mark him as old-fashioned, he is trustworthy and although he does not always understand them, often serves as a confidant to his daughters.
Dora, about the same age as her husband, has been a stay-at-home mother. While occupying few pages here, her role is important as her keen insights and wry sense of humor often shed new light on problems. She provides a warm, loving home to her husband but is clearly her own person.
Sylvia, the Wexfords’ daughter, volunteers at a safe house for women in situations of domestic abuse, referred to as “battered women” in the novel. An ardent feminist but also a dissatisfied middle-class housewife, she embodies contradictory positions of contemporary English women that often irritate her conventional father.
Thomas Orbe, who was convicted of sexual abusing and killing a child, and served time for it, has been released into a relative’s home in Kingsmarkham. As the neighbors’ increasingly hostile efforts to oust the pedophile turn violent, a local girl disappears. Wexford’s role in police efforts to ensure Orbe’s safety and that of the public while finding the girl form much of the plot.
Stephen and Fay Cavendish are a local, wealthy couple whose child disappears and then returns. Stephen is murdered, providing another mystery for the police to solve. Whether Fay has been a victim of abuse is connected to Sylvia’s involvement in the story.
Lizzie Cromwell is a teenager who temporarily disappears and comes back with a fantastic story about kidnappers who forced her clean house. Yet one more mystery for the over-burdened Wexford; while tempted to dismiss the story as an elaborate hoax, he is intrigued that its plot echoes a well-known novel she claims never to have read.
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