2009: 40. A Fatal Inversion

“The body lay on a small square of carpet in the middle of the gun room floor.”

A Fatal Inversion, Barbara Vine

Although I generally adore Rendell’s Barbara Vine novels, this one is not one of my favorites.  It’s fine, but it doesn’t have that real psychological insight that I think marks the best Vine novels.  The story starts with a yuppie couple burying their dog in a pet cemetery located on the grounds of the manor home they had recently bought.  What starts as a scene that is pathetic (but bordering on humorous), turns macabre when they uncover human bones.  The story then slowly leads to a group of people who had lived in the home ten years before in a sort of commune.  Now adults, they are petrified that the story of what happened there will come out and ruin the lives they have made for themselves.  Vine captures the paranoia that overtakes people hiding from their own pasts, and slowly unfolds the story of what happened so that the novel is less a whodunnit, but a whathappened.  And its very well written, and better than most mysteries you read, but the characters just didn’t touch me the people in the other Vine novels do.  A good comfort read, and probably if it was a Ruth Rendell I’d not have been disappointed, but as silly as it seems I expect more from her when she’s writing as Barbara Vine. 


Date/Place Completed: March 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017