The Invisible Ones
- Quercus Publishing Plc
- Publication Date:
- 21 June 2012
- Modern & Contemporary
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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 librarything.com Early Reviewer program.
"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
<i>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.</i>This is Stef Penney's second book; her first, <i>The Tenderness of Wolves</i>, 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.<i>The Invisible Ones</i> 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 <i>Case Histories]</i>and I hope that Penney will follow Atkinson's lead and write more about Ray Lovell.
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, <em>The Invisible Ones</em>, 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.<em>The Invisible Ones</em> 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 <em>The Invisible Ones</em> like a writer with 20 years experience under her belt. After her successful debut novel, <em>The Tenderness of Wolves</em>, one might wonder if Penney would suffer from a sophomore slump. To that, I would say "definitely not." <em>The Invisible Ones</em> 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 <em>The Invisible Ones</em> 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.
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