Five Inspector Wexford stories that show Rendell at her least distinctive--the full-length Wexfords and non-Wexford novels and stories are all superior--but Rendell never sinks below a certain, remarkably high, level. Best is the grittily monetary "Old Wives' Tale": the murder of a 92-year-old woman planning to enter a nursing home. (Prime suspect: her 70-year-old son-in-law!) Three other puzzles--poisonous mushrooms, a kidnapped baby, and odd behavior by fellow tourists in Yugoslavia--boast nice details and colorations (like Mrs. W.'s personality on vacation) but haven't the core originality one has come to expect from Rendell. And "When the Wedding Was Over," in which Wexford re-solves a historic old crime case from his armchair, is the sort of curiosity piece done better by others. Second-string Rendell, then--which means, by any other standards, perfectly solid and tremendously intelligent, invisibly stylish work.