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A Dark-Adapted Eye [Mass Market Paperback]

Barbara Vine
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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On the morning Vera died I woke up very early. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Adaptive Eye Oct. 10 2002
My first time viewing a video with a story by Ruth Rendell. I am not going to go into detail about the literary aspects of the story, but more about my opinion of the characters. I see on the website that Vera is discussed as a very controlling, strange and domineering woman.She seems pretty tame to me. In my opinion, Vera is quilty of nothing more than having an eccentric personality, but so what! If anyone is quilty of madness, it is her sister Eden and her son Francis. It is apparent that these two bad seeds were out to push poor old Vera over the edge. Also, I believe throughout this entire story, that Vera is,in a way, the victim of circumstance. It is apparent to me that the March baby she is accused of killing was not killed by her, but by Mr. March. The only murder Vera is guilty of is her sisters, and I couldn't blame her for killing her. Eden drove Vera to madness. So vera didn't have lots of money and she was a bit eccentric. She gave the baby what he needed most...love and affection, which is something Eden wasn't capable of doing!!
Personally, I do not feel Vera should have been hanged. The murder had not been premeditated. It was a crime of passion and temporary insanity brought on by none other than the emotionally impotent Eden.
And another thing, what about that niece of Vera's. Faith knew what Eden was out to do. Both Faith and her husband knew what Eden was doing was wrong, they should have done something about it. Some how I feel this murder and hanging could have been avoided, if Faith had gotten envolved. And where was Vera's brother John in all of this? Why didn't he get envolved!!?
Ultimately though, Vera should not have been hanged, given the circumstances. If there was an injustice, it was against poor Vera.
Sorry for typos, can't figure out how to use my spelling checker here.
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3.0 out of 5 stars As a mystery, only fair June 20 2002
I guess I will be the one who appears to disagree with the majority of reviewers of this book. I will agree with the fact that the story is well written and laid out very well by Vine (Rendell). As a work of literature this is definitely a good book. I however, selected this book because it won an Edgar Award for best mystery and had those expectations. The book moves very slowly. I put it down countless times and read other books in the process. I picked it back up because of the wonderful reviews I had seen on Amazon. (I had not read anything by Ruth Rendell or Barbara Vine to compare the style of this book to her other books. According to a note in the back of the book when Rendell writes as Vine, she writes in an entirely different style.) In the end, I wasn't satisfied as a lover of mysteries with the pace or the outcome of the book.
So if you are looking for a fast paced mystery novel then this is not for you. If your expectation is that of a piece of literature that well depicts a society family in 1940s England, and the dysfunctional nature that they try to conceal and how it affects their lives both then and into the present, then this will not disappoint. Just don't expect this book to go quickly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous mystery Sept. 9 2001
This is one of the most sophisticated mysteries in years, and intitated a whole series of superior psychological novels from Ruth Rendell under the nom de plume Barbara Vine. The work begins with the sensational headline-grabbing state hanging of Vera Hillyard; the rest of the work is preoccupied with why she was executed and whom she murdered. Although Vera's victim becomes apparent earlier than halfway through the book, the whys of murder are much more intriguing: indeed, the novel purposefully begins with a knotted web of familial Hillyard relations for the reader to enjoy sorting through until it all makes sense.
The tale Vine has to relate is a complex one, extraordinarily deftly told: one has only to see the well-meant expensive botch made of it on British television to see how extraordinarily subtle Vine's art is here. The sense of wartime and postwar atmosphere is marvelously evoked, and the particular attention given here to WWII makeup and glamor (a favorite preoccupation of Barbara Vine's) is an especially intriguing and enjoyable detail.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Rendell Fan Aug. 13 2001
By Marcie
I have read several books by Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) and have enjoyed most of them. This was pretty good too, other than the fact that I felt she began to drone on towards the end, and I was getting bored. The story, though, is good. It begins with the morning that Vera Hillyard is hanged for murder, we don't know who's or what happened. From there we start back years before as Vera's niece tries to remember what led up to the murder so an author can write a book about it. Vera is a strange woman who adores her younger sister Eden and basically raises her after their parents die. The niece comes to visit occasionally to escape the war and finds Vera to be rather hard to get along with. Vera is married and has a son, but her husband is always away in the war and her son, Frances, despises Vera for sending him away to boarding school as a youngster and does his best to make her life miserable. Throughout all of this, though, Vera still longs for another child which she eventually has, named Jamie. It is kind of a mystery too, who the father of this boy is, which adds to the suspense. The author hints at the fact that 2 children died mysteriously while Vera is near, though never comes out and says she was involved, so among all these people it isn't clear who she murdered until the story is over half finished. Barbara Vine has written a unique story, unlike any other I have read, kind of a backwards mystery where the reader knows the criminal and the crime but not who was killed or why. Like I said before, it did tend to drag on longer than necessary, but for anyone who likes a little different spin on a mystery, suspense type novel, this is for you.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun with Families
I really enjoyed this book. The characters felt very real, and I felt better about my family after reading about this one. Always a plus. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by madcarrot
2.0 out of 5 stars Who cares?
I was disappointed in the work. Rendell's writing style is wonderful, her vocabulary artful. The problem was that I was not made to care about any of the characters--just... Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2002 by Christian Dimas
4.0 out of 5 stars Good pyschological thriller
If you want a book, where it's a puzzle to find out "whodunnit", then this isn't for you.
Very quickly (within the first 10 pages) you know who is going to be killed by who. Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by "ltrent@amgen.com"
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific mystery
I think this was my first Barbara Vine book and what a treat. Truthfully the first chapter was a bit hard to follow, Vine sort of throws you into the family history without much... Read more
Published on June 18 2002 by J. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brillant Rendell /Vine Mystery
This is perhaps my favorite, although that is so hard to decide, of Rendell's Vine persona. This plot unravels so mysteriously that it is hard, even at the end, to be sure what... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2002 by Nancy Trease
4.0 out of 5 stars fun to read nonetheless
Having read most books by Rendell, P.D. James and Elizabeth George I am getting a bit tired of their nearly identical styles and equal and sometimes ludicrous attempts to impress... Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Richly Textured
Before I started reading the book, I had had the impression that it would be full of twists and have a shocking, unexpected and revealing ending. Read more
Published on May 25 2001 by xyz
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my very favorite books ever!
Okay, I admit it, I'm a big Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell fan, but aside from that, this is my very favorite of all her books. I don't know where to start - just read it! Read more
Published on May 18 2001 by Jeanne E. Legault
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
Of all the Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine novels this is my absolute favorite. This book has it all--an intricate plot, sympathetic characters, an ironic twist at the end. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2000 by Amazon Customer
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