"Dazzling...writing at her formidable best, Barbara Vine taps the poetry as well as the pain of her characters' clamorous declarations of their need for love." —New York Times Book Review
"When the best mystery writer in the English-speaking world launched a second byline, she actually stepped up her writing a level." —TIME
Faith Severn has grown up with the dark cloud of murder looming over her family. Her aunt Vera Hillyard, a rigidly respectable woman, was convicted and hanged for the crime, but the reason for her desperate deed died with her. Thirty years later, a probing journalist pushes Faith to look back to the day when her aunt took knife in hand and walked into a child's nursery. Through the eyes of a woman trying to understand an unspeakable, inexplicable family tragedy, Barbara Vine leads us through a shadow land of illicit lust, intimate sins, and unspoken passions—to a shattering and illuminating climax, as inevitable as it is unexpected. In this enthralling masterpiece, a great crime writer has achieved both a flawlessly crafted novel of psychological suspense and a deeply probing work of literary art.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.74(d)|
About the Author
Barbara Vine is the pseudonym of Ruth Rendell. Considered by many to be Britain's greatest living crime writer, Rendell was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger for a lifetime's achievement in crime writing in 1991, which sits nicely next to her four Gold Daggers and one Silver Dagger, and her three Edgar Allen Poe Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, including a Grandmaster Award from the aforementioned MWA.
What People are Saying About This
"Brilliantly evokes the eerie quality of conventional life when it is invaded by uncontrollable passion - the inconceivability yet sudden inevitability of murder among 'people like ourselves'."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We start with the crime, the perpetrator and her execution, but as the book rolls on, we go back in time and then we're not so sure that the right person was sent to prison in the first place. Or was she? The characters are neurotic to begin with, and the way the author brings them to life is magnificent. My favorite Barbara Vine novel.
I honestly couldn't put this one down, mostly because the writer introduces so many characters at once without giving detailed explanations as to how each one fits into the story. One has to read further to make sense of where the story is going. Explanations come gradually later as the web of the Richardson, Longley, and Hillyard families is woven together. As with her book THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER'S BOY, Vine manages to create some pretty unlikeable characters (the exacting, snobbish, unfailingly rude sisters Vera and Eden) as well as the weary, once naive narrator (the neice Faith) who attempts to piece together the thrilling mystery. Vine allows readers to understand middle class British life before and during the WWII years. She expertly explores the mores, behaviors, and manners of the times through the attitudes and explanations of the characters. Yet, she leaves the reader still guessing in the end. I recommend this one, but it might take more than one read through to grasp the specifics of the Vera Hillyard case and the ways in which the different characters fit together.