2009: 45. A Dark-Adapted Eye

“On the morning Vera died I woke up very early.  The birds had started, more of them and singing more loudly in our leafy suburb than in the country.”

A Dark-Adapted Eye, Barbara Vine

This is the very first novel that Rendell wrote as Barbara Vine, and this is one of my very, very favorite of her novels.  I’ve re-read it at least four or five times, and enjoy more it each time I do.  It is a story told by Faith Severen, whose aunt, Vera Hillyard, was hung for a murderer (that’s not a spoiler - we find that out in the first few paragraphs).  The novel is thus, not a whodunnit, but a what happened, as the best Vine novels are.  Over the course of the story Faith (now a grown lady) rethinks her experiences with her prissy, uptight aunt, and her other, younger, beautiful aunt Eden, and what led to murder all those years ago.  It’s just a pitch perfect story, I think - Vera and Eden seem real (and dreadful), and the story of what led someone like Vera to murder is just horribly credible.  I love this novel and recommend it whole heartedly to anyone who likes mystery fiction - or just novels about what makes people tick.


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

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017