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A Fatal Inversion [Paperback]

Barbara Vine
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

7 May 2009

A Fatal Inversion - a classic thriller from the queen of crime Barbara Vine

'An absolute winner ... a gripping read from start to end' Daily Mail

'Brilliant. Vine has the kind of near-Victorian narrative drive ... that compels a reader to go on turning the pages' Sunday Times

In the long hot summer of 1976, a group of young people are camping in Wyvis Hall. Adam, Rufus, Shiva, Vivien and Zosie hardly ask why they are there or how they are to live; they scavenge, steal and sell the family heirlooms. In short, they exist. Ten years later, the bodies of a woman and child are discovered in the Hall's animal cemetery. Which woman? Whose child?

'I defy anyone to guess the conclusion ... the clues are cunningly planted, so that it seems one should have known all along. A most satisfying end' Daily Telegraph

'Nimbly written with all the Dickensian values of vivid characterization, fine prose style and a cunningly devised plot that shifts and twists and keeps you on the edge of your chair' Val Hennessy, Daily Mail

A Fatal Inversion is a modern classic of the crime genre. If you enjoy the novels of P.D. James, Ian Rankin and Scott Turow, you will love this book.

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. She has written fifteen novels using this pseudonym, including A Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet which both won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Her other books include: A Dark Adapted Eye; The House of Stairs; Gallowglass; Asta's Book; No Night Is Too Long; In the Time of His Prosperity; The Brimstone Wedding; The Chimney Sweeper's Boy; Grasshopper; The Blood Doctor; The Minotaur; The Birthday Present and The Child's Child.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141040475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141040479
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, 'The New Girl Friend'; and a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

Product Description

Review

'I defy anyone to guess the conclusion, but looking back, the clues are seen to be there, unobtrusively but cunningly planted, so that it seems one should have known all along. The curtain is drawn back to reveal rather than to surprise; a most satisfying end' Daily Telegraph 'An absolute winner, nimbly written with all the Dickensian virtues of vivid characterization, fine prose style and a cunningly devised plot that shifts and twists and keeps you on the edge of your chair' Daily Mail 'The story is brilliant, the ending a perfect bit of irony... Barbara Vine has the kind of near-Victorian narrative drive... that compels a reader to go on turning the pages' - Julian Symons, Sunday Times

About the Author

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. She has written fourteen novels using this pseudonym, including A Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet which both won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. All her books are available in Penguin. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten Years After... 1 July 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely enthralling.... 19 Oct 2003
Format:Paperback
I had already read a couple of Barbara Vine novels before reading this one, and although I thought the others were good, for me this is the masterpiece: enthralling and unputdownable. The plot is totally original and as you put the pieces together you realise how well crafted the storyline is. The ending is fantastic. A must read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Vine at her very best 14 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
When I get picky about Vine/Rendell's recent works it is because I look back at novels like these and long for a return to this sort of form.
The book is set in the fabled long hot summer of 1976 it captures that freaky heatwave perfectly. Most of the action takes place in a large remote house deep in East Anglia, unexpectedly bequeathed to Adam, a young student. By a quirk of fate he cancels his planned holiday to Greece and spends the summer in the house with a bunch of friends and hangers on. They plunder the house for antiques and sell them to fund a hedonistic life style. Into their midst they take Zosie, a profoundly disturbed girl and her actions lead to terrible and tragic results. Years later, when Adam and his friends have become upstanding members of society, another quirk of fate reopens the past with all its consequences, To say more might spoil your enjoyment and suspense. I thoroughly recommend it especially for a holiday read. Set thirty plus years ago it still exerts a powerful thrall and does not suffer by being dated. Spellbinding.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vine/Rendell at her very best 2 Aug 2007
By Skylady
Format:Paperback
Masterfully written, this is the story of a group of young students who gather to spend a long, blazing hot summer vacation at Wyvis Hall in Suffolk, the recently inherited house of medical student Adam Verne-Smith. This hypnotic tale is told mostly through flashback, the threads pulling together gradually and inexorably, weaving the past and present towards a stunning climax. Menace is present from the opening line to the startling denouement. Vine has created a living, breathing world as only she can; this tale of greed and frailty, disaster and triumph places human nature under the microscope and while none of the characters is particularly likeable you are drawn into their worlds as the tale unfolds. The story will imprint itself on your mind long after you have read the final page. One of my Desert Island must haves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Which one was murdered? 18 Sep 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
As always, writing as Barbara Vine seems to give Ruth Rendell much more space and time to develop a setting and its characters. Yet there seems no let-up in tension as a result, so it must be a matter of establishing the pace she wishes to travel at, and how she will arrive there.

Throughout most of this book we know that a young woman has been murdered, but we do not know which one from among the two in the back story it might be. A clever plot device, as it gets your attention immediately and you are unwilling to miss a word in case it gives a clue to identity.

In the end you know that justice has not been done, but at the same time someone has been justly punished. A riveting and well-wrought read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-put downable! 9 April 2000
Format:Paperback
Simply the best work of Ruth Rendell aka Barbara Vine. A superb plot and an excellent BBC mini-series screenplay. An absolute must...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic 8 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book amazing and to date I have found this one of Barbara Vines to be the best ever would love my friends to read it a wonderful page turner the suspense was entralling
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fatally engaging read 30 Jan 2011
By CJ
Format:Paperback
Don't start on this book, if you have a lot to do, because you will find it very difficult to put it down. From the beginning Barbara Vine builds tension and suspense, starting with the discovery of two bodies, a young woman and a baby, buried together in a shallow grave at Wyvis Hall. It soon becomes clear that one-time owner of the hall, Adam, and his friends Rufus, Shiva, Vivien and Zosie must know something about this - but what do they know, to whom do the bodies belong, why are they there? From opening chapter to final page, Barbara Vine keeps us turning the pages. The mystery unfolds slowly, via the recollections of the three men - the women's voices are absent, and of course we soon realise the reason this must be.

I really enjoyed the mystery, but if I have a criticism, it is that Vine's central characters failed to convince me - somehow this felt like an older person's vision of what wild young things got up to, rather than what being young in the mid 70s was really like. Even so, I have to rate it the full five stars - this is vintage Vine, and I'm at a loss as to how I missed reading this one first time round.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A story full of suspense
From the word go the writer skillfully draws you in and keeps you guessing. Set in the summer of 1976, it's a story full of languid days, steamy nights and bad decisions made by... Read more
Published 18 days ago by sue
5.0 out of 5 stars A creepy examination of friendship, love and murder in the hazy summer...
I always like Barbara Vine, but this I loved. A collection of characters, none entirely likeable, but some definitely more flawed than others, drift together during the long hot... Read more
Published 1 month ago by BookEm
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent plot and writing, unsympathetic characters
This was a complex and well-plotted mystery story with Barbara Vine's trademark style of multiple interweaving points of view and alternation between past and present timelines as... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Ephiny
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow burner
I love Ruth Rendell as Barbara Vine and have previously read her books in one sitting as they are so well crafted I just can't put them down. Read more
Published 24 months ago by rachv67
1.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment
I have read two Ruth Rendell novels, one of which I found simply pointless, the other greatly enjoyed. So I thought I'd give her Alias a go. Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2011 by Glilla Bear
5.0 out of 5 stars fatal inversion
All the charcters in this book are interseting , the mysterious zosie, adam, refus, shiva, they all have a motive in this story and your left guessing right up to the end who was... Read more
Published on 25 Jun 2011 by Mrs. Amanda R. Newman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fatal Inversion - A book to keep you up all night
Barbara Vine is a master of the psychological thriller. Her characterisation is second to none and you soon feel you know her characters as though you have met them. Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2010 by Sheila M. Belshaw
2.0 out of 5 stars A banal plot
During the summer of 1976, Adam Verne-Smith inherits a big old country house in Suffolk, Wyvis Hall. Read more
Published on 1 Feb 2007 by HORAK
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