A Fatal Inversion
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A Fatal Inversion

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,789 ratings  ·  74 reviews
When a young man moves into a recently inherited Suffolk manor house, he falls into a summer idyll that gathers friends and strangers alike—and concludes in murder

When the new owners of Wyvis Hall go to bury a dear pet dog, they stumble upon a ghastly relic left by the home’s previous occupants: the bones of a woman and a small child, hastily interred. So opens a mystery s...more
ebook, 268 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Open Road Media (first published August 1st 1987)
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Nov 01, 2009 Barbara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Teresa and Cynthia
Shelves: mystery
This is one of Barbara Vine's earlier richly crafted novels. Her writing is elegant and skillfully constructed. "A Fatal Inversion" is not an ordinary mystery with a familiar plot, it is a chilling psychological study which gives the reader insight into a horrifying murder. It is compelling and certainly thought-provoking.

A landowner in the English countryside discovers an old pet cemetery on his vast property, where he finds human bones also buried. This fact and the subsequent police investiga...more
This book is always up there among my favorite "Top 5 Vines" along with ASTA'S BOOK, BRIMSTONE WEDDING, A DARK-ADAPTED EYE and HOUSE OF STAIRS - and, like those, it's one I've pretty much lost count of how many times I've read.

As with most of the other Vines (of which this was the 2nd), "old sins have long shadows" that cast themselves on the present, and Vine moves effortlessly between 1986, when the skeletons of a woman and child are discovered buried in the pet cemetery of a country estate, a...more
Apr 04, 2012 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of suspense & psychological fiction
Recommended to Sue by: Barbara
My second of Vine's psychological suspense novels. The word mystery just doesn't describe what happens in this book. The central event occurs in 1976 but is discovered with the uncovering of human bones in an animal graveyard 10 years later. The most recent owners of this suburban estate have begun a process that will lead to the unraveling of several lives.

Vine/Rendell is expert at the slow disclosure of facts and feelings, the essence of the psychological novel. This particular novel is writte...more
I was drawn into this murder mystery. It was a great experience - listening to the book during my daily jogs. Am glad that I listened to the audio version because otherwise I would have just rushed through the book, in my usual speed-reading mode, sometimes even missing certain aspects. A wonderful psychological thriller, which shows how even gentle, normal people can commit crimes, if circumstances arise. I loved the descriptions of Acalpamos (not sure of the spelling) and wished i owned it. I...more
I could not put this one down either, but I found the several of the characters to be very disturbing (and possibly disturbed). Again, Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) tells an intricate story with amazingly done characters (it's been years since I read this, and I still retain impressions of places and personalities). This one was just a little too creepy (psychologically speaking) for me, and I have not read another one of the Barbara Vine novels since!
Lyn Battersby
I'd read all the Ruth Rendell in my local library and was feeling rather down. I love Rendell's different take on the crime genre and wanted more*. In my trawling the catalogue system, however, it became obvious that all was not lost. Rendell also writes crime under the name Barbara Vine. I was a little worried about heading into unchartered territory, after all, writers rarely use pen names without reason, so I wondered what she had done to this titles to mark them as 'different' from a Rendell...more
Probably the best Barbara Vine novel I have read. It was also the first of her books I read. The almost palpable sense of time and place she created was so convincing I can clearly remember the feeling I had reading this book. She always features such detailed and convincing characters it is apleasure to follow the story which often involves a mystery or curious event. This book was thoroughtly satisfying if you enjoy this type of book.

I have given this 5 stars becasue of the pleasure it gave me...more
Spoiler Alert
This book was well-written, the pacing for a mystery novel well done and the story line interesting as told by the prospective of the killers. Unfortunately, I could not give it a good score because I could not find a single, main character to like and I do not appreciate it when killers go free. When the good and innocent are murdered and the psychopaths go free….... It reminds me of the line in A Miracle on 34th Street when Kris Kringle says “Yet he's out there and I'm in here,” r...more
Bev Dulson
I have read this book many, many times the first when I was about 15. My copy of the book is a very well thumbed book. Each time I read it, I take something different away with me.

I read this books after first watching the BBC drama version of this story and despite knowing the ending it didn't spoil my enjoyment as I felt I was in on the secret and could spot the red herrings the author carefully plants in the story.

The plot revolves around Adam who has just inherited Wyvis Hall from his great...more
Terrific. Evocative of Robertson Davies & John Fowles, to a lesser degree, in both tone and spirit - wonderfully done until the very last chapter where the resolution is formulaic & one sighs at the predictable, pat ending but so what - it's a fascinating and absorbing novel that I highly recommend. Psychological suspense - top of the line.
Jayne Charles
I think Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine likes writing about Bohemian Youth types, and there are plenty of them in this book. The atmosphere is created very well, but I wasn't too sure about the plot. There wasn't very much mystery, as it was clear from an early stage what had happened. I was waiting for a clever twist but it didn't materialise

For some reason I thought this was going to be a mystery, which it was not. At least not really.

Vine experiments with presenting an event in the past from the points of view of 4 people who took part in an ill-fated "communal" living experiment at an English country estate.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I didn't like this at all. The later half of the book was slightly better, when we actually had some dialogue and not just endless descriptions. It wasn't suspenseful enough for me and I honestly didn't even care to find out who murdered whom by the end of it.
Roz Morris
Another clever mix of nasty people, weak innocents and manipulative horrors who all share a bad secret. Plus there's a grand old house, which Vine invests with its own personality - another familiar trope from her. Enjoyable with a good twist.
Not my favorite Ruth Rendell, who really wrote this. A convoluted and sad plot. A collection of people that coulda/shoulda known better. No real admirable person in the bunch. I kept waiting for someone to act heroically, and they didn't.
None of the characters are very sympathetic in this, most not at all. The mystery itself isn't up to Rendell/Vine's usual standard, sadly, though the attempt is mildly laudable. I won't be reading this again.
I think of this story often even though it's been 15 years since I read it. At the end, the last page in fact, I read to the last period and threw the book across the room.
Read this years ago and remember being very impressed, but this time, not so much. I could tell quite early on where the story was going, and it seemed all a bit contrived.
I want a movie version of this book. I can just see it. Spooky good.
Her usual interesting tale, suspenseful and surprising.
Deb Oestreicher
This is my second Ruth Rendell mystery (Barbara Vine is a pseudonym) and I think I've learned she's not my cup of tea.

Neither this book or the one I read previously (The Face of Trespass) are mysteries in the sense of whodunit. In this book and the other, you're pretty sure you know whodunit, but you may not be clear about exactly what they've done and how. Because the books look back in time from a dark present (full of guilt) to the darker events that created the dark present, the stories are...more
Kathleen Hagen
A Fatal Inversion, by Barbara Vine, AKA Ruth Rendell, A. Narrated by William Gaminara, produced by BBC-WW, downloaded from audible.com.

Adam inherits a house when his uncle dies. Adam decides to go and look at the house, and he takes a friend, Rufus, with him because Rufus has transportation which Adam doesn’t. They decide to informed their families that they were going to Greece, so that they wouldn’t be disturbed by their families, but instead Rufus and Adam decide to stay in the house for the...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shane Plassenthal
I've been reading Ruth Rendell for years, but this is my second Barbara Vine novel. It's one of her early attempts and like most of her early writing, it's quite good. That being said, don't expect a murder mystery or really even a mystery at all. This is a novel, a tale of why and how a murder happens and how it ruins the lives of the people involved. It's a character study of people whose old sins have casted long shadows. Unlike most of Rendell's work, 'A Fatal Inversion' does not rely on plo...more
Felix Hayman
Where does evil begin? In Barbra Vine's world, on the edge of impulse when the frustration of being is twisted to the extreme.But where Vine's novels go is to the heart of an ethic that has sat at the centre of mystery writing for years - why does the status quo of good versus evil have to be restored at the end of every narrative? In the world of these teenagers that live (and die) in this novel nothing is relative to the status quo, but in their selves 10 years on everything is desperate to re...more
Like a big dork, I didn't get the ending until about five hours after finishing the book. I was driving in my car and it just suddenly clicked. That is some slow processing time.

Liked it, didn't love it. I always enjoy Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, but they do tend to feel dated (because they are). Lovely, lovely writer, though.
John Glover
As usual, the author brings together some psychologically damaged characters, places them under stress, and looks at the very human results. Also, once again, many of the players are the idle, directionless young of privileged families. A great read, but a little slow paces, even for Barbara Vine.
This is the first Ruth Rendell novel that I have read under her Barbara Vine alter ego, but it was definitely classic Rendell. It is nearly a murder mystery in reverse with all the lovely (or horrifying) psychological accompaniments. How does murder affect a person? Why are some only troubled by fear of discovery and not the crime itself? How many subtle affects can a crime have on a person who believes they are in the clear?

There are so many other fascinating ways to look at a mystery than as...more
Very disturbing! Very well written as all Barbara Vine's novels are. Unlikable characters but such an intriguing mystery, very hard to put down. I love Barbara Vine. Oddly, I've never been able to get into her actual name's books - Ruth Rendall.
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A.K.A. Ruth Rendell.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication of A Dark Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine in 1986. Books such as King Solomon's Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Anna's Book (original UK title Asta's Book) inhabit the same territory as her psychological crime novels while they further develop themes of family misunderstandings and the side effects of sec...more
More about Barbara Vine...
A Dark-Adapted Eye The Chimney Sweeper's Boy Anna's Book The Brimstone Wedding The Minotaur

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