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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 10 April 2017
another great book by Steph Penney. different than the others but great.
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on 12 May 2017
Very good, though I foresaw the twist.
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on 4 July 2017
Clever story
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on 30 April 2017
Brillant. Stef Penney writes beautifully and I couldn't put this book down.
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on 9 April 2017
Very interesting book with an unexpected ending. I enjoyed it in a nail biting way!
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on 10 April 2012
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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on 24 March 2017
I have not as yet started to read this book as am currently reading Stef Penny's first book which is The Tenderness of Wolves and enjoying it. A good read.
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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. Along the way he encounters quite a few red herrings which send him (and the reader) off down the wrong path, and the final twist is a bit of a shocker which I only saw coming at the very last minute. So all in all a very enjoyable read, but once again I stress that it's a very different kettle of fish to TTOW so don't be expecting more of the same. I'd certainly recommend it to fans of Kate Atkinson and other intelligent/less gruesome crime writers, and I did wonder whether Stef Penney had any plans to turn it into a series - I think there's plenty of mileage left in Ray and I'd like to see him investigating other crimes, both within and outside of the travelling community.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 January 2013
Stef Penney set herself an extremely high bar for her second novel, her first having won the Costa Prize and critical acclaim. 'The Invisible Ones' is a very different novel in terms of setting and theme, but is just as well written. It is narrated in the first person by two characters, alternating a chapter each. One is Ray, a private detective hired to investigate what happened to a young woman who went missing from a reclusive Gypsy family several years before. The other is JJ, a teenage boy and part of the family in question. Ray is an interesting, believable character, whereas JJ's 'voice' is not entirely convincing as that of a teenage boy and rather inconsistently written. However I can happily forgive that since this is a very compelling and absorbing story, tightly plotted and well paced, which is hard to put down. The story is original and surprising, and whilst I worked out the conclusion a few chapters before the protagonist did, it was still a pretty good twist. The characters are well drawn and intriguing, and the writing style is clean and very easy to read. Overall, this is an excellent novel that will be enjoyed by those who like 'literary' fiction as well as fans of the crime genre. Looking forward to her third novel.
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on 29 December 2015
I picked the audio version of this book to listen to on a long journey, not quite sure what to expect. I loved it. Maybe it was actor Dan Stevens' narration, but the characters felt real from the start, and I was instantly absorbed in the story. The main viewpoints are both male, and so well-written I was surprised to find the author is female, though again, the male narration may have helped with that. The teenage voice of JJ was spot-on, I really warmed to his character.

The plot was gripping, much more than a murder mystery. I'm always expecting a twist, and often guess it before the end, but it wasn't the case here and came as a satisfying surprise. There was a lot of depth and atmosphere, with interesting detail about gypsies and the travelling community, which I knew very little about, and I found the story stayed with me after it had finished. I'd love to read another book featuring Ray Lovell.

I never got round to reading the author's first novel, but will definitely do so now.
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