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'Grande dame' crime writer Ruth Rendell dies at 85

British author Ruth Rendell has died, aged 85, after suffering complications from a debilitating stroke in January. Loved by the publishing world, she was considered the "last grande dame" of the crime thriller.

Rendell, who published more than 60 books, was best known for her psychological thrillers, which delved into the criminal mind. Her works were also adapted for television by the successful series "The Ruth Rendell Mysteries."

Rendell's publisher, Penguin Random House, made the announcement shortly after her passing on Saturday morning.

"Ruth was much admired by the whole publishing industry for her brilliant body of work," said Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House UK.

"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," she said.

Publisher Jean-Claude Berline, the French editor of her upcoming book, said that Rendell was "the last grande dame of the police thriller" after P.D. James' death in 2014.

The artist as a detective

Rendell's first book "From Doon with Death," published in 1964, introduced her career-spanning character Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford.

In an interview with UK periodical The Guardian, Rendell explained that her beloved character was a reflection of herself.

"I don't get sick of him because he's me. He's very much me," she told The Guardian.

"He doesn't look like me, of course, but the way he thinks and his principles and his ideas and what he likes doing, that's me. So I think you don't get tired of yourself."

A career spanning five decades

Rendell became a member of the House of Lords in 1997 following then Prime Minister Tony Blair's recommendation.

She was awarded four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writer's Association, one of England's most prestigious literary associations.

She also wrote several suspense and psychological novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine in order to avoid being pigeon-holed as a writer.

Her books, spanning a five-decade career, were translated into 25 languages.

ls/jil (AP, AFP, dpa)