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The Invisible Ones Paperback – 21 Jun 2012

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The Invisible Ones + The Tenderness of Wolves + The Outlander
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (21 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857382942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857382948
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University she turned to film-making, studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. Her first novel, The Tenderness of Wolves is a world-wide bestseller and prolific award-winner. Stef lives in London.

Product Description


'A supreme story-teller on top form' The Times.

'A beautifully crafted novel with skilful characterisation and a plot which twists and turns ... this story of loss, deceit and family tragedy lingers long after you've finished the book' Daily Express.

'Penney has a real gift for storytelling and this tale [...] is pretty compelling from the beginning' Glasgow Sunday Herald.

'Highly impressive thriller ... a terrific novel with much disturbing wisdom amid the thrills' A.N. Wilson, Reader's Digest.

'A marvellously atmospheric piece of writing' Financial Times.

'Chilling' Daily Express.

'a story teller on top of her game' Independent.

From the Inside Flap

Rose Janko is missing. It has been seven years since she disappeared, and nobody said a word. When Rose married the attractive Ivo Janko, she became part of travelling Gypsy family. But many wondered at the time, were they really suited? Rose is quiet and shy; Ivo - taciturn, yet charismatic. Rumour had it she ran off when her baby boy was born with the family's genetic disability. But her father Leon is not so sure. He wants to know the truth and he hires a private investigator to discover it. Enter Ray Lovell, a small-time PI who has the added advantage of being of Gypsy descent and therefore not an outsider. He agrees to take the case. But after seven long years he fears the trail has run cold, and his investigation is hampered by the very people who ought to be helping him - the Jankos. They are a close-knit clan, and the last thing they want is a stranger digging around in their private business. Ray cannot understand their reluctance to become involved. Why don't they want to find Rose Janko?

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover
I don't envy Stef Penney the task of writing a follow-up to the Costa Award-winning The Tenderness of Wolves, and I'm glad she's gone for something completely different rather than trying to emulate her phenomenally successful debut novel.

The Invisible Ones is at heart an old-fashioned murder mystery, complete with an accident-prone, unlucky in love private investigator in the shape of Ray Lovell. I warmed to Ray instantly (it probably helped that he reminded me a lot of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie). When we first meet him he's lying in a hospital bed with no memory of how he got there. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that Ray was hired by Leon Wood to find out what happened to his daughter Rose who disappeared six years earlier, shortly after her arranged marriage to fellow Gypsy, Ivo Janko. It also transpires that Ray was chosen to investigate Rose's disappearance because he too is of Romany descent.

As we know from the recent TV documentaries, Gypsy and travelling communities tend to be very private and wary of outsiders. That is certainly the case with the Jankos (with good reason), but other than that this isn't an in-depth exposé of Gypsy life and culture. The Jankos aren't part of a large travelling community but are living on the edge of `normal' society, with some members holding down jobs and going to school. They keep themselves to themselves due to a `family curse', the hereditary blood disorder which has resulted in very few male children making it past puberty. Ivo suffered from it as a child and his son Christo is now badly afflicted by it.

Ray's investigation unearths a number of skeletons which the Jankos would prefer to keep buried.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bud Baxter on 10 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
I loved Stef Penney's first novel, set in Canada in the 1860's and feared the leap to her second novel, set in England in the 1980's, was going to be too big. Of course I was wrong and fell in love with The Invisible Ones. It's as powerful and beautiful as her debut, but in a very different, more subtle way.
What starts off as a noir detective thriller soon becomes a mystery novel, the characters slowly working their way into you, becoming real people. And what a great pair they are (the story jumps back and forth with ease between two perspectives): the flawed and scarred private investigator and the innocent teenager, both with big hearts, both to some extend outsiders in the Romany world.
Stef Penney proves (again) to be a great storyteller, being able to describe places and people seemingly without ease, but with great beauty and strength, her pen (well - keyboard, I assume) sometimes as sharp as a knife. I willn't spoil the end for you, but it's not as farfetched as some readers apparently think... Just go with it.
It's a book that is intriguing from the start, growing on you as you read, becoming a page turner almost impossible to put down. After I finished, the two main characters lingered on in my head for a long time, the places kept haunting me, the strong atmosphere surrounding me. A mystery that's more than just about the plot, an imaginative book rooted in a real world, a treat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Purpleheart TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover
'When I woke up, I remembered nothing - apart from one thing. And little enough of that: I remember that I was lying on my back while the woman was straddling me, grinding her hips against mine.'

Ray Lovell, a private investigator wakes up in hospital, confused and semi paralysed. As he starts to make sense of what has happened we are drawn in to the story with him, sorting hallucinations from real events. He issearching for a woman, missing for six years after marrying Ivo Janko. Lovell has been chosen for the job because he is is half Romany, though brought up gorjio by his parents. As is so common now there are two alternating narrators - the other being JJ, Janko's illegitimate 14 year old cousin who is trying to navigate adolescence with the added complication of being regarded as a dirty gypsy. JJ's narrative has spark and some real pathos. There is a road trip to Lourdes in the hope of a miracle saving six year old Christo, Ivo's son, who has the mysterious family disease that led to two of his brothers and two of his uncles dying young.

This is Penney's first novel since Tenderness of Wolves. It's not the knock out that novel was, and it lacks pace at times but it is very readable and held my interest throughout. Other reviewers have mentioned the twist at the end. I had guessed it some time in advance, so for me the book's merits have to be more about the insight in Romany life and in the telling of the mystery story. It succeeds but not quite holding you in the same page turning manner as her debut novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Silk on 13 Feb 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Private Eye who is part Romany Gypsy is unusual, and his assignment to discover what happened to Rose Wood takes him and the reader into unusual territory - the heart of a Gypsy family who live on the edge of their already marginalised community. The two narrators, Ray, the detective, and JJ, a half Romany adolescent, tell what happens from their different perspectives. Both voices are interesting and beautifully written. Ray and JJ have more in common than they realise. My book group recently chose this book, and the discussion it provoked was in depth, fascinating and deeply satisfying.
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