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Review: A Fatal Inversion

A Fatal Inversion A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A page-turning suspense novel, yes, but its psychological depth, enchanting descriptions, and thematic unity strongly affected me. If you've ever held deep guilt in your heart for years, you might recognize, in the story, how it eats away at the characters, how their past poisons their present.

This story centering on a hot summer of debauchery transported me to the English country estate where the excess occurs, and where the deadly consequences lead the characters to lives tainted by guilt. But forms of divine retribution, in varying levels of destruction, attack the characters' ostensibly calm present-day lives.

"Barbara Vine" is a pen-name of the late crime-genre queen Ruth Rendell. I'd read one or two police procedurals by the latter and given them B+ marks, but if this book is any indication, Rendell writing as Vine delivers superb psychological insight, description, and plotting in this suspense novel. I think of the 1980s now as a simpler, "innocent" time, but this story portrays how easy it is to make life-altering mistakes in an instant -- even if the economy is good and radical Islamism is not a worry.

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