Listened to: A Sleeping Life by Ruth Rendell, 1978 (according to the internet), Overdrive.com download.
Cultural and social commentary packaged within a mystery. Rendell covers the expectations upon women and the social limits that constrain them in the 1970s. Plus a murder done as a police procedural.
Inspector Wexford is called out to a murder scene. A woman has been stabbed to death. The body holds few clues to the woman's identity. Police discover she was a former village resident who in town to visit her hospitalized father. Police have a devil of a time tracking down where the lived, who she knew, and where she worked.
Meanwhile, Wexford's daughter has left her husband and moved herself and Wexford's grandsons into the Wexford home. His daughter has being reading up on feminist literature and that has given her the gumption to change the things that have been bothering her. Daughter doesn't want to be forced to stay at home with the children; Daughter wants to work and not rely on her husband for money, social status, etc. This confuses Wexford quite a bit. He thinks Daughter is ignoring how good she has it and she needs to be stable while the children are still quite young.
Wexford also works the murder case. No one is too broken up over the dead woman. She had moved away years ago and her father is unresponsive after a stroke. Her aunts and cousins barely know her and the only close relative in town is a rat fink drunkard anyway. The body does possess clues to a London based novelist and Wexford follows the lead he has.
Anyhoo. Wexford follows the clues and runs down a few dead ends as his superior officer pressures him for results. Spoilers Ahead. The London Novelist is supposed to be on vacation to France. London Novelist's agent, publisher and typist give some conflicting information. Dead Woman was never an attractive woman and was discounted by many people because of her looks. She never had romantic relationships and the post mortem declares her a virgin.Eventually Wexford figures out Dead Woman is London Novelist. Dead Woman hid her gender and lived as a man so she could get ahead in the world. She only dressed as a woman when she visited her old village.
Anyway. I enjoyed the story but it was not really my bag.