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A Fatal Inversion


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About the Author

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. Viking have published her twelve previous novels, including A Dark Adapted Eye, which won the Crime Writer's association Gold Dagger Award, and more recently Grasshopper, The Blood Doctor and The Minotaur. Ruth Rendell sits in the house of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London.


A Dark-Adapted Eyefirst novel under the pseudonym Barbara Vine by the British author Ruth Rendellwon the MBA Edgar. This is the second, a mystery like all her works, transcending the genre. Evoked in beautifully ambient writing, the setting is a rural estate, Wyvis Hall, which Adam Verne-Smith inherits at age 19. Inverting the word ``someplace,'' Adam names his eden Ecalpemos where he revels through a summer with four companions. The months drift by until a horrible event scatters the lotus eaters, and Adam sells the property. For 10 years, the former friends live secure in the belief that they alone know their terrible secret. Then the present owners of Wyvis Hall dig a grave for their dog in the pet cemetery on the grounds and unearth human remains. Making headlines, the news stuns the Ecalpemos conspirators, long since established as proper London citizens. The author virtually defies one to pause between incidents in the exquisitely controlled developments that peak in a marvel of irony that no reader could foresee. (September)

'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

Vine is the pseudonym of noted mystery author Ruth Rendell, and this second Vine novel repeats the quality we've come to expect from this master writer. The story centers around a house and its young owner, 19-year-old Adam. When we meet Adam, however, he is ten years older, unhappily married and the devoted, obsessive father of a baby girl. Adam learns that two skeletons have been found at the house, which he had sold shortly after inheriting it. Slowly, Vine reveals the events of Adam's first summer in the house and what Adam and his friends did ten years before. We share Adam's anxiety as the police try to determine who the bodies are. The suspense is double-sidedwhat happened and why, and how will Adam deal with whatever materializes. There is a nifty surprise at the end, and Vine strings us (and Adam) along with consummate skill. Louise A. Merriam, L.E. Phillips Memorial P.L, Eau Claire, Wis .

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