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Roots of Evil

by Sarah Rayne

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1254173,653 (3.77)3
Lucy Trent is used to having the legend of her disreputable grandmother disinterred from time to time - the infamous silent-screen actress Lucretia von Wolff, whose lovers were legion, whose scandals were numerous, whose life ended abruptly in a bizarre double murder and suicide at the Ashwood film studios in 1952. Lucy rather enjoys Lucretia's legend - although most of the family would prefer it to be quietly forgotten. But when a body is found in the now-derelict studios, brutalised in a macabre echo of the 50-year-old case, disturbing facts about the past begin to emerge... Facts which point back to the eerie legend of the child known simply as Alraune. The child named after Lucretia's most famous film. The child who may never have existed at all. In the ensuing murder investigation, Lucy is to discover the truth about her family's dark and often poignant history - a history which spans the glittering concert halls of 1920s Vienna to the bleak environs of wartime Auschwitz. And at the heart of it all lies the shocking truth about the mysterious child called Alraune.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Really torn about this one. It was dark and gripping and twisty--Rayne is amazing at misdirection. But after a while the shocking revelations started to pile up and feel like tricksiness for the sake of tricksiness, and I'm not sure all the tricks hold up on closer examination (one definitely does not). Still, it's a good ride, and I eagerly ate it up.

See my complete review at Shelf Love. ( )
  teresakayep | Mar 19, 2011 |
I have absolutely no idea why I expected this to be a ghost story,well, it wasn't. Nevertheless, it was still a good book. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of it at the beginning but it was well-paced and didn't feel as long. While I'm certain, I won't read it again, I can't say I felt like wasting my time, the story was captivating with a lot of twists and stays that way until the end. ( )
  danizinha | Oct 13, 2010 |
As with her other novels Sarah Rayne has spotlighted a particular building to be the centre of her story. In some of her other tales we have had an old theatre,a mill house and the obligatory asylum for the insane. In this one it is a disused film studio which takes centre stage.
Lucy Trent is a researcher for Quondam Films,who are doing a presentation of 1920 horror films. She is approached by a lady who is tracing details of the life and films of an old film actress of that era called Lucretia von Wolff. She has discovered that Lucy is von Wolf's granddaughter and wonders if she has any information to offer.
Shortly after this a body is found in the old film studio that was used in the films of von Wolf,and which years ago was the scene of a double murder and the suicide of von Wolf. This death was similar to one of these earlier murders in that the body was found in a throne-like chair with both eyes skewered and destroyed.
A murderer is at large who is intent on keeping all connections between the film studio,the murders of the past and the life and death of the notorious Lucretia von Wolfe,firmly away from public gaze.
We are taken between life in a quiet fen-land village in the present day and to 1920 Vienna via the Nazi Death Camps of the Second World War.
Rayne writes as always with great intensity and brings a sense of deep fear and horror to her books. The only slight fault I could find is that the ending is a little too saccharine sweet (a most unusual fault for this writer) and this particular book could have been improved with a little cutting. ( )
  devenish | Jun 28, 2010 |
Someone, somewhere recced Sarah Rayne, so I bunged a bunch of her titles on my Amazon wishlist and three of them turned up on my birthday. Yay! This one's decidedly un-cosy, involving as it does numerous people being murdered by being stabbed through the eyes, a mass rape and, oh, yes, the Holocaust. I would never have bought it if I'd known any of that, and had to squint in a few places to make the print blurry so I could get through the nastier bits, but I enjoyed (most of) it very much in spite of that. It's an involving and fascinating psychological thriller with elements of my favourite trope, Dark Secrets of the Past. Not by any means a masterpiece, but a real page-turner. ( )
  phoebesmum | Jul 5, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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It is not every day that your family's ghosts come boiling out of the past to disrupt your ordinary working day.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Lucy Trent is used to having the legend of her disreputable grandmother disinterred from time to time - the infamous silent-screen actress Lucretia von Wolff, whose lovers were legion, whose scandals were numerous, whose life ended abruptly in a bizarre double murder and suicide at the Ashwood film studios in 1952. Lucy rather enjoys Lucretia's legend - although most of the family would prefer it to be quietly forgotten. But when a body is found in the now-derelict studios, brutalised in a macabre echo of the 50-year-old case, disturbing facts about the past begin to emerge... Facts which point back to the eerie legend of the child known simply as Alraune. The child named after Lucretia's most famous film. The child who may never have existed at all. In the ensuing murder investigation, Lucy is to discover the truth about her family's dark and often poignant history - a history which spans the glittering concert halls of 1920s Vienna to the bleak environs of wartime Auschwitz. And at the heart of it all lies the shocking truth about the mysterious child called Alraune.

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