A Fatal Inversion is among Barbara Vine's most creepy and atmospheric novels. From the start of the first chapter, death casts its ominous shadow over the entire novel, when Adam, Rufus and Shiva, now three grown men in their thirties are forced to confront something terrible and tragic that took place ten years previously, when they lived together in a commune at Wyvis Hall in Suffolk in the sweltering summer of 1976.
The group of young people who come to inhabit `Ecalpemos', a Georgian mansion, inherited from his Great Uncle by 19-year-old Adam Verne-Smith, are by no means likeable characters - hedonistic, selfish, arrogant, manipulative, weak - yet you become intensely caught up in their world and the landscape of their individual psychologies. Then the wheel of fate is set in motion with the arrival of the seemingly mysterious, disturbed and child-like Zosie. Barbara Vine writes about dysfunctional individuals in a unique way that imbues the mundane with chilling significance.
As ever, with Barbara Vine, buildings and landscape take on a dark and sinister aspect, even as the hot summer sun of '76 beats down, and Vine's Suffolk countryside is at times as menacing and uncanny as that of M.R. James. More than just a crime and mystery novel, this book makes you think about human conscience, lack of it, deception, innocence, guilt, and the hard truth that in life, the amoral do not always get their just deserts.