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A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine
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A Fatal Inversion (1987)

by Barbara Vine

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5961216,462 (3.81)31
  1. 10
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (KayCliff)
  2. 00
    The Likeness by Tana French (Ling.Lass)
    Ling.Lass: Reconstructing what led to a murder among an eclectic and tight-knit group of housemates.
  3. 00
    The Girls by Emma Cline (shaunie)
    shaunie: Similar doom-laden atmosphere with something horrible about to happen in the summer heat - but whilst Cline's book is this year's must-read Vine's book is far more tense and exciting.
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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Barbara Vine
  Marjoles | Sep 26, 2017 |
Great character development - they are not necessarily likeable, but you see them clearly as people, and know why they do what they do.

Very well written. ( )
  uttara82 | Jan 23, 2016 |
Great character development - they are not necessarily likeable, but you see them clearly as people, and know why they do what they do.

Very well written. ( )
  uttara82 | Jan 23, 2016 |
A Fatal Inversion is my first Barbara Vine (and I've only read one Ruth Rendell that I remember- sort of: From Doon with Death). I figured it would be a good pick for me because I read that this book was heavy on psychological suspense, and it popped up on a list of Top 100 Crime Novels of the Century. Thankfully I agree with the awards and list accolades: A Fatal Inversion is a fine read that grows in my estimation the further I am from it.

The story takes place during an incredibly hot summer in 1976 in England at a country mansion that nineteen-year-old Adam inherited from his great-uncle after his first year at university. He spends the summer with a small group of friends and acquaintances, and the book focuses on three main perspectives: Adam, his friend Rufus, and their new acquaintance Shiva.

The descriptions are very detailed, and the mood of the story from 1976 is quite hazy, lazy and sunny.

Adam closed his eyes and turned his head away from Anne. A down-stuffed duvet in a printed cotton cover lay over them. It had been a quilt at Ecalpemos, faded yellow satin, brought in by Vivien from the terrace when the rain began. Quilts were what you lay on to sunbathe that summer, no for warmth on beds, but slung for lounging comfort as it might be on some Damasene rooftop. Night after night they had lain out there in the soft, scented warmth, looking at the stars, or lighting candles stuk in Rufus's wine bottles, eating and drinking, talking, hoping, and happy. That summer--there had never been another like it, before or since (p. 57).

The story begins with the discovery of human skeletons in a pet cemetery at said country mansion in 1987, and the story about Adam in 1976 will eventually tell what happened and whose skeletons were discovered over 10 years later. It's obvious early on who is guilty, but Vine doles out details of the complete story in the past quite slowly-- and effectively-- to make this a very involving read. She has a lot to say about guilt and degrees of guilt, and it would make for a great book club discussion.

You have to be able to stand self-involved young adults to be able to get into this story, and thankfully this feels like a condensed, creepy version of The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I much preferred this book to the Tartt. The story is heartbreaking, the plotting is insanely good, and the ending is so apt. I love the ending. It's really a masterful story.
  rkreish | Jul 24, 2015 |
In A Fatal Inversion, by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, we meet a group of young people in Suffolk in the very hot summer of 1976. There is Adam, who has inherited a large home from his great-uncle; Zosie, a waif of a woman for whom Adam and his home is a refuge from the world; Rufus, the handsome medical student who just wants to spend some time drinking and smoking pot; Shiva, a transplanted Indian with self-esteem problems; and Vivien, who is searching for the perfect commune in which to grow. These five young people spend their summer lazily, but ten years later, the bodies of a woman and an infant are discovered in an animal cemetery attached to the house. Who are those corpses, and what do the five young people have to do with them?.... I always enjoy “Barbara Vine” novels, as they tend to be more in the line of psychological portraits of interesting individuals than mysteries per se, and of course Ruth Rendell is always a treat to read under any pen name! I liked the way this novel evoked a particular place and time, quite far removed from us now but still resonating with the way people in their late teens and early 20s regard life. Recommended! ( )
  thefirstalicat | Jul 9, 2015 |
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For Caroline and Richard Jefferiss-Jones with love from Barbara
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The body lay on a small square of carpet in the middle of the gun-room floor.
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Adam closed his eyes and turned his head away from Anne. A down-stuffed duvet in a printed cotton cover lay over them. It had been a quilt at Ecalpemos, faded yellow satin, brought in by Vivien from the terrace when the rain began. Quilts were what you lay on to sunbathe that summer, no for warmth on beds, but slung for lounging comfort as it might be on some Damascene rooftop. Night after night they had lain out there in the soft, scented warmth, looking at the stars, or lighting candles stuck in Rufus's wine bottles, eating and drinking, talking, hoping, and happy. That summer--there had never been another like it, before or since.
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In the long hot summer of 1976 a group of young people are camping in Wyvis Hall. They hardly ask why they are there or how they are to live. Ten years later the bodies of a woman and child are discovered in the Hall's animal cemetery.

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