Popular British crime writer Ruth Rendell dies at age 85
Author Ruth Rendell - (BBC screencapture)

Best-selling British crime writer Ruth Rendell, who wrote over 60 books in a career spanning five decades, died on Saturday at the age of 85, her publisher said.

Rendell suffered a stroke in January and had been in a critical condition in hospital.

In a statement, Penguin Random House said: "We are devastated by the loss of one of our best-loved authors."

"We will miss her enormously," it said.

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," she said.

Rendell was best known for psychological thrillers delving into the criminal mind as well as the successful television adaptation "The Ruth Rendell Mysteries".

Her fictional creation, the sensitive Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, featured in her first novel "From Doon to Death" (1964) and throughout her career.