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A Fatal Inversion Paperback – 7 May 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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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: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

"An absolute winner ... a gripping read from start to end" (The Daily Mail)

"Brilliant. Vine has the kind of near-Victorian narrative drive ... that compels a reader to go on turning the pages." (The Sunday Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market 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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Format: Mass Market 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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Format: Mass Market 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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Format: Mass Market 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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Format: Mass Market 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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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Sept. 2009
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this after a spate of crime and thriller novels and I was worried I might not give it the attention it deserved, simply through sheer fatigue. This, however, was a masterclass in plotting, suspense, atmosphere...Vine / Rendell was clearly at the peak of her powers, and not only managed to keep her characters compelling - without sacrificing realism; they are frequently unpleasant and abrasive - but also kept a certain person's identity secret until the very end, without it seeming forced or having to resort to convenient memory lapses while inside a narrator's head.
[All this being said, this is the only book I have read thus far by Barbara Vine / Ruth Rendell - therefore if there is any repetition in her style, I didn't experience it! I look forward to discovering more of her back catalogue.]
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