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I think I'd be happy listening to Alex Jennings reading a shopping list, and I originally saw this book because I was looking for anything new he had narrated that I fancied. I have not read any Barbara Vine before so I have nothing to compare it with. But I did enjoy it a lot.
The story is a slow-burn, though the pace really picks up in the last part of the book. It is a complex plot too but cleverly mapped out, if a little (a lot really!) convoluted. You really do have to suspend belief and just accept the contrived elements. I had begun to sort out the probable ending about half-way through but I was only partly right, so it did keep me guessing right to the very end.
The writing is excellent, good description and dialogue. I think the reader is not supposed to really like any of the main characters - I hope so, because I didn't; but the main character who starts the book as a fairly odious student does really mature into a much more rounded person, warts and all.
It's basically a thriller/mystery, and also it is about passion - sexual passion and to a lesser extent, enduring love. It is mildly to moderately graphic and there is a lot of sex - fine with me but if you listen on the school run...
The ending was a good one for me - not a spoiler, but it was bitter-sweet. I don't know if this book is typical of B Vine but if it is, I'd definitely listen to more. The characters and the atmosphere of the book - brooding, and sad but intriguing - stayed with me after I had finished it and I continued to think about them and the story. In a good way.
80% of the narration is Alex Jennings with two other characters coming in towards the end, both good. Alex Jennings did a fantastic job with his reading and it brought it to life.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is not Ruth Rendell aka Barbara Vine’s best work.
It kept promising to ratchet up the suspense, but just didn’t deliver on that promise.
Other reviewers have mentioned the terms melodramatic and soap-opera, and I have to agree. The performers delivered their lines as if sedated on Lithium, which really didn’t help matters.
Very near Nabokov. Brilliantly executed. Entirely deep and real characters. The love and pain drives their stories. Have always preferred BV to RR.