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A Fatal Inversion

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,925 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
An award-winning novel from a New York Times–bestselling author: The long-buried bodies of a woman and child are unearthed on a Suffolk country estate.
When the new owners of Wyvis Hall, a rural estate in Suffolk, set out to bury their pet dog on the grounds, they stumbled upon a ghastly relic: the bones of a woman and small child in a shallow grave. The gruesome find ma
ebook, 268 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Open Road Media Mystery Thriller (first published March 1987)
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Oct 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
May 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a fan of the writing style. The plot was slow moving, but did pick up toward the end. None of the characters were likeable. Although this was probably intended by the author, it still was tedious to read, as they were shallow and self-absorbed. I skimmed some of this book (especially in the first half) just to get to the explanation of the murder. There's a bit of a surprise at the end, which made me give the book 3 stars instead of two. An OK read.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
DeAnna Knippling
Most of the book was a three--but the ending was a five, such that it reframed the rest of the book. Not the kind of story I normally go for.
Lyn Battersby
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-suspense, 2009
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.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2016
An excellent read that I would heartily recommend.

The book starts with the digging up of bodies, so the reader knows straight away broadly what has happened. It takes until almost the end of the book to find out precisely what happened, why and the circumstances that led up to it. It's a good example of taking the personalities of two main characters (male), adding in several other players, and seeing how the characters drive events. Well, I say 'drive', that suggests a clear strategy, whereas t
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When nineteen-year-old Adam Verne-Smith inherits his great uncle’s estate, Wyvis Hall, he decides to spend the summer there with his best friend Rufus. Ideas of turning what he now calls Ecalpemos into a commune take hold and before long three more people join them. It’s the summer of 1976 and the hot, lazy days are filled with drugs, drinking, sex, and, inevitably conflict. One incident in particular turns deadly.

Although I’ve been a Ruth Rendell fan for years, this is the first book I’ve read
Nov 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I started this book with very high expectations but was disappointed completely. I disliked everything in 'Fatal Inversion" including characters, plot, narration and storyline. First of all, the idea of all those people living together does not seem probable at all. Narration just drags on and on and nothing ever happens. There was not a single likable character. Siva's character was kind of forced in the story. I could sense a slight racist undertone in Rendell's depiction of Siva's character e ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This seemed rather pointless to me. (view spoiler) ...more
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, bookcrossing
This was a sight-unseen Bookcrossing book (chosen on the basis of the first sentence). I'm not a reader of mysteries generally; I'd heard of Barbara Vine and knew it was one of Ruth Rendell's pen-names, but I'd never read any. After a few recent duds, it's good to feel you're in the hands of a master storyteller from the first page (and indeed the first sentence).

It's not so much a whodunnit as a whydunnit, and even a whatdidtheydo. A bleak little tale, with clues and red herrings very cleverly
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Great, solid mystery. I'm not usually a fan of slow reveal books like this (you know from the start what happened, but not quite, who it happened to, but not quite, and who did it, but not quite), but this was engaging without making me want to shout 'get on with it already.'

Read this as part of attempt to read through one of those '100 best mysteries' lists. Was waffling between three and four stars, but think it really deserves four. Good plot and characters - that's what a mystery novel need
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
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.
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! The more I read of Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell the more I want to read. Particularly enjoyed the setting of this one which is very local to where I live. I found the ending a little strange, but the tale was well told, with clever use of misdirection throughout.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

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.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
My favorite type of psychological suspense novel. Slow deliberate pacing with enough reveals to keep it interesting, fully developed characters, and a crime from the past made this a top notch read.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, suspense
The Vine novels are all built around the idea that the past isn't past.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want a movie version of this book. I can just see it. Spooky good.
Mahshid Saghatchi
It was much better than I thought.totally liked it.
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover for Gesloten Ruimte by Ruth Rendell 2 11 Jan 10, 2017 10:44AM  
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Pseudonym of 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
More about Barbara Vine...
“Empty minds are abhorred by thought as vacuums are by nature.” 5 likes
“The safest way to live is first, inherit money, second be born without a taste for liquor, third, have a legitimate job that keeps you busy, fourth, marry a wife who will cooperate in your sexual peculiarities, fifth, join some big church, sixth, don't live too long.” 4 likes
More quotes…