The Invisible Ones

The Invisible Ones

by Stef Penney


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425253212
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/04/2012
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 592,167
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stef Penney’s debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, was a national bestseller and the recipient of the prestigious Costa Book Award in 2006. Penney, who was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, is also a screenwriter.

What People are Saying About This

Tana French

This is a murder mystery unpicked at the seams, turned inside out, and stitched together with threads of myth, old griefs, twisted forms of love and complex family ties into something utterly new and utterly enthralling. Warning: you will not get anything else done till you finish the last page of this book. (Tana French, author of The Likeness and In The Woods)

From the Publisher

“Utterly new and utterly enthralling.”—New York Times bestselling author Tana French “Fascinating.”—The New York Times

“Penney gives her plot plenty of twists and saves the best for the end, with a truly unforeseen and unpredictable conclusion.”—Kirkus Reviews

Reading Group Guide

Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance. . . .



Stef Penney was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, was an international bestseller and received the prestigious Costa Award. She is also a screenwriter.


  • The author chose to tell this story with two narrators, each of whom offers a different view into Romany culture. Would the story have been stronger or weaker with just one narrator? Do the narrators’ positions affect your perspective on the culture?
  • Why do you think the author chose JJ to illustrate Romany culture? How would the story have been influenced by a different narrator —Tene or Sandra, for example? What effect does JJ’s voice have on the story?
  • JJ reflects on a disastrous study date with a classmate at the end of chapter 16, saying that he and Stella are “like trains on tracks that run more or less parallel but will never meet. I can’t go on her tracks, and she can’t go on mine.” In what ways is Romany culture different from the outside world? In what ways is it the same?
  • Romany face a significant amount of prejudice and stereotyping. What are some examples in the novel? What impact does this have on the characters? How are Romany themselves prejudiced against outsiders? How does Ray Lovell walk the line between his two cultures?
  • Ray Lovell’s viewpoint moves between his past and his present. How does solving the mystery ’alongside’ him enhance your reading experience?
  • “Pure blood” is a significant concern through this novel. How does pure blood shape the “one of us” mentality? How has the desire for pure blood affected the Janko family? Are there other cultures or instances in history where “pure blood” has been a valuable trait?
  • The Jankos visit the healing bathhouses at Lourdes in an attempt to cure Christo’s mysterious disease, through prayer and holy water. JJ says that his family is not religious, though we learn that their culture is rich in folklore. How does their belief in the healing power of Lourdes align with their folkloric traditions? Are there ways in which it conflicts?
  • Luck is a prevalent theme in the novel. Are the Jankos lucky or unlucky? Explain with specific instances that the Jankos attribute to luck.
  • The Invisible Ones is set in the 1980s. Why do you think the author chose this time period? In what ways does it affect your reading experience?
  • Sandra and Lulu have very different reactions to Ray’s revelation about Ivo. Sandra is arguably much closer to Ivo, but she responds much more calmly to the news. Were you surprised by this? Why do you think the two reacted so differently?

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The Invisible Ones 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
english_teacher_39yrs More than 1 year ago
This is a book with the richest of characters, gypsies and private eyes. The setting is beautifully crafted and the character are three dimensional. I learned a lot about the Roma. The characters were endearing one moment, seemingly guilty the next. The plot is intertwined, deeply detailed. It's a great book. I'm only disappointed her other novel, The Tenderness of Wolves is not on Nook. It should be!! I finished this book today and I cannot wait to read her other. She's that good.
JadeWant More than 1 year ago
The main character is Ray, a private investigator, takes us into the strange world of the travelers and their distrust of anyone who is not “one of them”. The fact that the investigator is part traveler, and therefore only partially suspect, is the only reason he gets as close to the truth as he does. It paints an interesting picture of Gypsy life, though flawed, as the background to an intriguing mystery and kind-of-a-love story. There are lots of twists and turns as a body is found in a building excavation, possible poisoning, another disappearance, and a death by fire. This is quite interesting and the ending was quite a surprise and revealing.
hemlokgang on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Once again, Stef Penney serves up a wonderful story which contains an intriguing plot, memorable characters and some food for thought in the form of background on the lives of modern day gypsies. The search for a missing woman leads the reader into the world of gypsies and "gorgios" (non-gypsies). We learn about their social status, their own social hierarchy, their prejudices, their oppression, and the complications which naturally arise from living in a closed society within an open one. If you have read "The Loneliness of Wolves", you will recognize the repeat of the missing person theme, which has left me intrigued to know more about the author's life. This is a very very good read!
techeditor on LibraryThing 8 months ago
THE INVISIBLE ONES by Stef Penney is, no exaggeration, a fantastic read. This mystery/suspense book is a keeper; get it in hard cover. And if you¿ve read Penney¿s other book, THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES, this book, THE INVISIBLE ONES, is better.Ray Lovell is a private investigator in England. The book begins with him in the hospital, but he doesn¿t remember why he¿s there. He¿s mostly paralyzed, and he¿s delirious. No one knows why. This is the first mystery.Chapters with this hospitalized Ray alternate throughout the rest of the book with chapters about how this situation came to be. These chapters are told from two points of view: some chapters are of the earlier, able-bodied Ray and other chapters are of JJ, a 14-year-old gypsy.A man whose daughter had been missing for almost 7 years hired Ray to find her. The man and his daughter are gypsies; Ray, himself, is half gypsy. The daughter married into a gypsy family, of course, so most of the investigation is of them. One of the members of this family is JJ.Ray finds mystery upon mystery upon mystery. You¿ll be guessing throughout, first one guess, then another. You¿ll think you¿re sure of one solution, then guess again. All your guesses will be wrong.I loved this book. Really. I¿m not easy to please, but THE INVISIBLE ONES is something special, not simply a plot-driven mystery/suspense book. If you were to force me to say something negative about this book, it would have to be Ray¿s attraction to one of the members of the gypsy family. I just don¿t see our hero going for that combination of dyed black hair, red lipstick, and red high-heeled shoes, I guess. And he trusts her more than I would; he keeps telling her things that I wish he would keep to himself.This review is of an advanced reader¿s copy of THE INVISIBLE ONES, obtained from Putnam Books through Early Reviewer program.
gincam on LibraryThing 8 months ago
"The Invisible Ones", by Stef Penney, was such a delightful surprise for me as a reader. It doesn't really fit into one particular category, and the book itself is much, much better than the promos that lead to my interest in obtaining a copy. An intriguing and involving "Gypsy Noir" PI tale, "The Invisible Ones" will hold your interest, and then some! Ray Lovell, half Gypsy or "Romany", is an about-to-be-divorced private investigator who has yet to sign the divorce papers. He broods over his ex-wife, sometimes spying on her and following her, and sometimes he drinks too much for his own good. He is not a sleek, sophisticated "super sleuth". Even though he is not always at his best, he is immediately likeable and has a natural charm all his own. He has the tenacity, instincts, and thought processes which make for a great detective. He doesn't give up--no matter how much he is beaten up! Most of his cases involve cheating spouses, something he knows about from his own wife's infidelity. Against his better nature, he accepts a missing person case from a father trying to find his grown daughter. The family is Romany, and that is why they selected Ray to take the case. The deeper he delves into the facts of the case, the more he explores thoughts about his own heritage. He gets to know himself as he comes to know the Gypsies he must investigate. One of the women he meets, LuLu, has a unique style and appeal that has Ray thinking there may be someone else for him other than his former spouse. He becomes friends with LuLu's half-grown nephew, JJ, who recognizes the goodness in Ray even though he is bent on unearthing the family secrets. What Ray discovers is that the term "missing person" has many different nuances, and he remains determined to solve the puzzles which surround the woman he was hired to find. The most startling revelation of all comes when he discovers that people can be invisible even though they are in plain sight. The narration of the story alternates between the viewpoints of Ray and JJ, both of whom are characters who deserve a happy resolution to their trouble-prone story lines. You will stay with them until the end, and even then, you will want to read more about them. Stef Penney is a terrific storyteller, and I very much look forward to reading her first book, "The Tenderness of Wolves". Highly recommended!Review Copy Gratis Library Thing
drneutron on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I've heard a bit about England's Travelers, though not very much. Their way of life is interesting to me, but frankly something of a mystery. So Stef Penney's new missing person mystery set among English Gypsies caught my eye as a way to see inside a normally pretty closed world.Ray Lovell is a half-Gypsy private detective hired because of his heritage to find a young Gypsy woman reported to have run away from her husband seven years previously. There's more going on than just a simple missing person, though, and the family Rose married into is more than simply dysfunctional - cursed, in fact.Honestly, the book is a weak mystery, but it's not so much about Rose and what happened to her. It's really about this fascinating and somewhat disturbing culture and family, and how that family implodes. And also how Ray deals with his own demons as he's pushed back into a culture his father left behind. It's a good, but not stellar book, however one I'll still recommend.
RidgewayGirl on LibraryThing 8 months ago
They say booze kills you, but it doesn't; otherwise, we'd all be dead. It's sadness that kills you, if that sadness is so heavy and overpowering that you simply cannot bear to be sober, or even conscious.This is Stef Penney's second book; her first, The Tenderness of Wolves, won the Costa Award. I suspect she was under pressure to have her second book live up to the promise of her first one, and not only did she knock it out of the ball park, she made it look effortless at the same time.The Invisible Ones is told in chapters alternating between Ray Lovell, a private investigator searching for a woman who went missing six years earlier and JJ, a fourteen-year-old boy living in a trailer in a small encampment with a few relatives. Both Ray and JJ are gypsies, although Ray's father gave up the traveling life before he was born. Ray searches for Rose, who may or may not be dead, as he mourns his absent wife and regrets the way his first missing persons case ended. JJ not only has to deal with the ordinary adolescent things, but he also has the stigma of being a gypsy and living in a trailer. His uncle is raising his son alone and Christo has a mysterious disability that is passed down within that family. JJ and his Grandmother are hoping a pilgrimage to Lourdes will cure Christo.This is a mystery novel and there is a twist at the end, but it's also an excellent novel about grief and longing and identity, beautifully told. It is slightly reminiscent of Kate Atkinson's Case Histories]and I hope that Penney will follow Atkinson's lead and write more about Ray Lovell.
CatieN on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Excellent character-driven mystery. Ray Lovell is a private investigator in London who is hired by the father of a Gypsy family to find his missing daughter, Rose. The search is complicated by the fact that Rose married 6 1/2 years ago and the family never saw her again and has done nothing to try and locate her until now. It is no accident that the gypsy patriarch came to Ray Lovell. Ray is half Romany himself, although he did not grow up in the Gypsy lifestyle. Ray is not a big fan of missing-person cases, but business is slow, so he begins looking for Rose, fearing the worst. Ray is successful in finding Rose's husband and his family who seem to have had more than their share of tragedies, and the reader is introduced to the second narrarator, JJ, the 14-year-old nephew of the missing Rose, who wants to be a typical teenager but who lives in the not-so-typical and misunderstood world of the Gypsies and who tugs at the reader's heartstrings. The mystery part of the book unravels slowly, but the slow pace is more than made up for by the excellent writing and the well-written characters. Also very enjoyable is the fascinating look into the traveling life of Gypsies and their customs and superstitions.
Twink on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Invisible Ones is Stef Penney's second novel, but a first look at this author for me. It won't be my last - I'll be hunting down her first book- The Tenderness of Wolves.The opening scene is one that will hook you into the story from the first page. Ray awakes in a hospital bed, paralyzed and with no memory of how he came to be there. Penney takes us back to the beginning and on the journey of how Ray ended up where he is.Ray Lovell is a small time private investigator - he mostly does cheating spouse cases and avoids missing persons after a case went really wrong. But when Leon Wood comes into the office asking Ray to hunt down his daughter Rose, he hesitates. Wood is a traveller - a Romany - a gypsy. Leon has approached Ray as he knows that he is half gypsy himself. The case seems impossible. Wood has not seen his daughter in 7 years - since the day of her wedding in 1978 to Ivo Janko, the last in a line of 'black blood' travellers. But - he agrees.As Ray delves back into a world he knows, but isn't a part of any longer, he is met with resistance, lies, indifference and hostility. No one is overly concerned where Rose is. "Suddenly I am absolutely determined to find her, because no one else seems really bothered".The Invisible Ones is told from two parallel viewpoints - that of Ray and of JJ - a fourteen year old boy who is part of the Janko family - in alternating chapters. This was guaranteed to keep me up late - I simply had to keep reading to find out what was happening with the other character. The narrative with Ray flips from present to past as his memory slowly returns.Ray and JJ are both on journeys, although they may not realize it. Ray rediscovers what it means to be gypsy and at the same time he tries to put his disastrous personal life back on track. Finding Rose becomes a quest long after others would have quit. JJ is an interesting character. He has never 'lived in bricks', having grown up in caravans. He is gypsy, but finds himself sometimes yearning for some 'gorgio' ways.(non Romany) But his ultimate loyalty is to his family. JJ is innocent, yet worldly - he was my favourite character.I enjoyed the slow building pace of the book as the story slowly unfolded. The characters themselves were just as much of a mystery. I was fascinated with the descriptions of Romany life and culture. (The book is set in England) The whole premise of the book was unique and not your run of the mill mystery. I had paid enough attention to subtle clues dropped during the last half of the book that I had a good idea wheat the ending was going to be. But this didn't detract from my enjoyment - and I was only partially correct.Definitely recommended - especially for those looking for something a little different.
ntempest on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Stef Penney¿s THE INVISIBLE ONES is a wonderfully layered novel that goes beyond the traditional mystery format. It alternates the stories of Ray Lovell, a private investigator who starts the book in the hospital, seriously injured and with no memories of what happened to him, with a young Gypsy named J.J. Over the course of the story, we learn that Ray was hired by a Gypsy man to find his missing daughter, and that part of the reason Ray takes on the case is his own Gypsy heritage. As Ray searches for the daughter, who has been missing for seven years, his investigation takes the reader into the heart of the Romany society, and he begins uncovering mystery after mystery, each one creating a more complex scenario. A wonderful book that gives glimpses inside a very different world that rarely features in novels.
Beecharmer on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved this book! A wonderful original plot for a change. The story of a gypsy private investigator who is hired by a father looking for his lost daughter. The father & family being investigated is gypsy too. This story is told in two voices - the private eye and a young teenage boy from the gypsy family. This book was not a fast paced thriller, but kept me anxiously awaiting the next time I could get back to it. The twist at the end was not something I expected. I had tried to read the Tenderness of Wolves and couldn't get into it. After reading this book I think I will try reading it again.
maneekuhi on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Invisible Ones has a detective, a missing person, some dug up bones.....but is not crime fiction. On one level it's about Gypsies, specifically one extended family which has legally parked their 3-4 trailers on a parcel of farm land, and on another level it is more broadly about about how certain ethnic groups are treated (or not, hence the invisible ones) and how they react/defend themselves. Along the way there is a lot to learn about gypsies and it is a fairly balanced presentation. There is a heavy theme of intermarriage and borderline, sometimes over the border, incest; but a rather interesting defense is presented for its practice within this family. The story centers on a young bride who runs off leaving her husband, and ill son. The son's family circles around him in support, and shows little concern and interest in the fate of the missing bride. But her father hires the detective. Many interesting characters, not a great deal of tension, but generally very interesting and recommended. Will read more Stef Penney. Completed 1/16, rated 4.0, K, London, fiction.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This isn't a book that can be rushed through, but a book to slowly savor. Told in alternate chapters by two different narrators, one is a gypsy private detective hired to look for a missing person and the other is a thirteen year old boy who lives with the traveling gypsy family the girl had married in to.As the book progresses layers are slowly peeled away and more is revealed about the girl, the gypsy culture and family and the narrators personalities and lives. The ending is a stunning reveal. Loved it! ARC from publisher.
mrstreme on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Ray Lovell is an almost-divorced private investigator who has sworn off missing persons cases. However, when a Gypsy man approaches him to find his long-lost daughter, Ray feels the pull of his Romany past and agrees to help the man. This begins the page-turning, suspense-filled novel, The Invisible Ones, by Stef Penney.Ray has his work cut out for him. Even though his dad was Gypsy, he's an outsider to the Janko family, and he needs to build their trust to help him find the lost girl, Rose Janko. Rose had married Ivo Janko, and according to the family, she had disappeared shortly after the birth of their child, Christo. As Ray investigates, things don't add up as neatly as the Janko family would have him believe.The Invisible Ones has two narrators: Ray, who leads the reader though the investigation, and JJ, the nephew of the missing Rose. JJ is only 14 and on a journey of his own: to help his cousin, Christo, who is ill with a strange disease, and to find more about his own estranged father. Both narrators are complex, emotional and very human - adding a sense of reality to a story that could almost be written off as implausible.Penney executes The Invisible Ones like a writer with 20 years experience under her belt. After her successful debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, one might wonder if Penney would suffer from a sophomore slump. To that, I would say "definitely not." The Invisible Ones is a gripping story about grief and loss - one that had me up late at night to learn more about this complex family saga.Fans of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie character will find a welcome home in this novel (Jackson and Ray remind me of each other) - but even if you don't like mysteries or suspense dramas, I would encourage you to give The Invisible Ones a try. At its surface, it's a murder mystery, but when you peel away the layers, the book emerges as a fine piece of writing craft.
LizzieD on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Invisible Ones turns out to be a pretty decent missing-person mystery. The private detective, Ray Lovell who is half Gypsy although he looks as though he has the pure, black blood, is hired by a Gypsy father to find his daughter who has been missing for seven years. Ray begins his investigation with the family into which Rose Wood married, the Jankos. He soon finds a bond with one of the Janko children, a young teen called JJ, who is also half Gypsy, and with JJ's great aunt Lulu to whom Ray is attracted.Penney chose to write the story in alternating chapters of first person, present tense narration by Ray and JJ. They have several points in common besides their actual half blood and full blood appearance. Both are outsiders; both have troubles with women. The problem for me is that both have the same voice. We should be able to hear the difference between a fourteen year-old boy and a grown man, but it's not there. The dual narration is interesting. Ray begins in the present and moves from flash-backs to that present and back again. JJ begins in the past and moves the story in chronological order to end the book in Ray's present.The reader is treated to some Gypsy lore and to a look at contemporary Gypsy's lives. The progress of the investigation is interesting enough to keep pages turning. The explanation, when it finally comes, is tragic for the characters, but I joined JJ's mother whose response was to laugh and laugh.My thanks to Early Readers for the opportunity to read the book. I was eager because Stef Penney had been nominated for the Orange Prize for her first book. I'll be interested to see whether this one makes the Orange long list.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Despite the popularity and good reviews of this author's The Tenderness of Wolves, this is the first Stef Penney novel that I have read. Now, I'm going to have to go back and read The Tenderness of Wolves because I really liked this book.This mystery taught me more about the Romany people and kept me entertained throughout. An unwilling wife of one of the Romanies disappeared six years earlier, and after all this time, her father decides to hire a detective to search for her.There is minimal violence in this story; it doesn't need to depend on blood and gore and shock. There is, however, lots of implications and innuendos, and it all points to something very bad happening to Rose. The characters were wonderful, and I especially loved JJ, a young Romany boy trying to balance two worlds. His voice seemed just right for someone his age, his immaturity sometimes getting the better of his desire to do the right thing.The ending surprised me. Really caught me off guard. And I'm not sure yet that I loved it, but I am certainly still mulling it over. And isn't that what a good book is all about, to keep you thinking about it after you've turned the past page?Thank you to the publisher for providing me a free advance copy of this book.
SugarCreekRanch on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Invisible Ones is an engrossing read. I knew nothing about contemporary Gypsy life before reading this and found that pretty interesting. I loved the nephew, JJ. I think one of clues to the big 'twist' was a bit obvious, and so the ending wasn't as surprising as I think was intended. But that didn't hamper my enjoyment in any way. Recommended.I LOVED Stef Penney's first book, The Tenderness of Wolves and would definitely recommend it, too.
karen_o on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney is something of a mystery set in mid-1980s England and centers around a Gypsy family, a girl missing for 7 years, and a half Gypsy private detective who, when we first meet him, is hospitalized following a car accident and suffering from hallucinations and paralysis. The story is then told in flashbacks and the chapters alternate between Ray, the private detective, and the teenaged boy of the Gypsy family, J.J. I was completely engaged by this story from the very beginning and it barely let up through a little more than 400 pages. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, the characterizations -- especially that of young J.J. -- and the facts of English Gypsy life, especially since that's not something we see in the United States. At least not where I live in Colorado. Although I didn't dislike the author's first novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, I liked this one *much* more and give it 4.5 stars when my usual rating for books I enjoy is 3.One caveat: I did figure out the denoument before the end even though that rarely happens for me and I never try to figure these things out. If being completely stumped by the essential heart of the mystery is of utmost importance to you, you may want to choose another book. In my case even though having deduced the ending may have slowed my rush to the last page, I was still more than enough interested to read about the Gypsy lifestyle and the people I'd come to know.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Leon Wood hasn't seen or heard from his daughter, Rose, since her arranged marriage to Ivo Janko several years ago. This won't be a typical missing person investigation since the Woods and Jankos are Gypsy families without fixed addresses. Leon hires Ray Lovell, a private investigator with family ties to the Gypsy community, hoping that potential witnesses will talk to him more freely than they would to a complete outsider. When Ray locates the Janko family, instead of providing answers, they raise more questions. Are they as ignorant of Rose's whereabouts as they claim to be?The characters and setting were strong enough to pull me into the world of the novel and keep me there until the end. The story is alternately narrated by Lovell and JJ Smith, a teenaged member of the Janko family. JJ also has an investigative role in the novel. He's young enough to be excluded from adult conversations, but old enough to realize that the adults have secrets. Although he's perceptive, he doesn't have enough experience to interpret the oddities he notices. He wants to understand his family, yet he's afraid of what he might learn about them.I figured out where the story was heading about halfway through the book, which might have been disappointing had the characters and setting not been so appealing. Even though I wanted to find out how the mystery would resolve, I was a little sad when I reached the end of the book. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to these characters.In some ways, this book reminds me of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, particularly When Will There Be Good News? It would be a good choice for Jackson Brodie fans.This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.
majkia on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A Private Detective is hired by a Rom man who wants his daughter found. Problem is, she disappeared some 6 years ago and no one has ever looked for her. Not even the man who'd married her only months before her disappearance.Thus begins a complex and intriguing search complicated by the secretive ways of the travelling Gypsy community. Even though the detective is himself half Gypsy, the family in question is reluctant to talk. The travelling family, the Jankos, have lots of secrets, the major one not the missing wife, but rather the details surrounding a mysterious illness that seems to be hereditary and is only evident in the male children, and many deaths, both through illness and through accidents. The story is told from various viewpoints, beginning with a man in a hospital who is partially paralyzed and has no memory, then from the viewpoint of the detective, Ray, and from a young teenager in the Janko family.The writing is excellent, the mystery complex. The world of the last of the travelling Roms is painted with care and sympathy, and is especially poignant as painted through the eyes of the one healthy boy of the family, as he watches his cousin suffer the 'family disease.'Highly recommended! (This was an ER book I received through
DowntownLibrarian on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Definitely worth reading - compelling characters and a fascinating window on Gypsy life.
Copperskye on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Ray Lovell, a private investigator who happens to be half Gypsy, has been hired, because of his lineage, to find a missing woman. Seven years ago, Rose Wood married Ivo Janko, and as is Romany tradition, she left to travel with his family. But news eventually drifted back to her family that she had run off and now, years later, her father wants to find her. As Ray digs deep into family history, he uncovers too many inconsistencies to ignore.The book opens with Ray in hospital, seriously ill, hallucinating, and partially paralyzed. The story moves back in time to recount what had happened to him and then forward as he recovers and continues his investigation. It takes place in England, in the mid-1980s, partially I suspect, to keep cell phones and the investigative power of computers out of the story. Chapters mostly alternate between the voice of Ray, and what he knows and discovers, and that of JJ, a teenaged Janko family member, and his inner knowledge of his Traveler family. I loved JJ¿s perspective and felt his thoughts and viewpoints were perfect for a boy of his age.I liked the story and learning about the Romany culture. I¿m still not sure what I think about the ending and a plot point that bothered me all the way through. It being a mystery means I won¿t say anything more. So a mystery, yes, but for me, it read better as family drama (of a very damaged family) within a secretive world. Still, this was a very entertaining page-turner by a wonderful storyteller. I¿m looking forward to seeing what next she has up her sleeve.
writestuff on LibraryThing 8 months ago
You take your fragile secret out of the darkness and expose it to the light. You lay it on the ground, where anyone can tread on it. - from The Invisible Ones -Ray is a private detective who is working through his own personal demons after separating from his wife. He doesn¿t like missing person cases so it is with some reluctance that he listens to a Romany man tell him about his missing daughter, a girl gone six years now. Despite his reticence, Ray finds himself pulled into the case and promising to find out what happened to Rose Janko all those years ago after she wed a Gypsy named Ivo.JJ is Ivo¿s nephew, a fourteen year old boy without a father who has grown curious about his family¿s secrets. He loves his cousin Christo, Ivo¿s son, who is suffering from a mysterious family disease. JJ wants nothing more than to find a cure for Christo and uncover the identity of the father he has never met.As Ray and JJ get closer to understanding what is hidden beneath the surface of the Janko family, things get more dangerous, and what appears to be the truth ends up being something entirely different from what they expect.Set in Northern England in the mid-1980s, Stef Penney¿s second novel takes the reader on a convoluted journey to uncover a mystery. Rich in detail about the nomadic life of the Romany people, The Invisible Ones is an intriguing and well-written book. There are two narrative threads which intertwine. JJ¿s point of view is that of an insider, while Ray (although part-Gypsy himself) is clearly viewed as an outsider. In large part, the novel deals with the idea of identity and how the cultural, familial, and individual roles we play come together to form the complete person.Strange, isn¿t it, how you can think of yourself as one thing for ninety-five percent of your waking life, and then an encounter with something or someone jerks you into remembering you¿re something else, that other five percent that¿s always been there, but slumbering, keeping its head down. ¿ from The Invisible Ones -Penney has a way of constructing her novels to provide tension. This novel had me guessing right up until the end when Penney inserts a twist I did not see coming. Despite some moments of implausibility, the plot of this novel held up in the end.Readers who enjoy suspense mysteries embedded in family sagas will enjoy The Invisible Ones.Recommended.
Barnabas1 More than 1 year ago
Excellent novel with insight into the Gypsy life and culture.                           Well told tale with some interesting turns as told by two different characters from two different perspectives--you won't guess the ending, so read it all the way through.    I thought Gypsies were an old myth until I was stationed in Germany in the mid-sixties, when a Gypsy camp near our base was put off limits to military personnel.  My wife had an interesting and none too pleasant interaction with them in Romania about 25 years later, shortly after the overthrow of Nicolae Ceau¿escu.  Per Wikipedia, there are about a million Romani in the United States, mostly "invisible" as a people group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago