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The Invisible Ones Hardcover – Jan 10 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Canada; 1st Edition edition (Jan. 10 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670066311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670066315
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 975 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #552,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A supreme story-teller on top form' The Times. 'A beautifully crafted novel with skilful characterisation and a plot which twists and turns ... this story of loss, deceit and family tragedy lingers long after you've finished the book' Daily Express. 'Penney has a real gift for storytelling and this tale [...] is pretty compelling from the beginning' Glasgow Sunday Herald. 'Highly impressive thriller ... a terrific novel with much disturbing wisdom amid the thrills' A.N. Wilson, Reader's Digest. 'A marvellously atmospheric piece of writing' Financial Times. 'Chilling' Daily Express. 'a story teller on top of her game' Independent. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

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.


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Jan. 26 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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By Jan on Sept. 20 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having lived in the UK, I appreciate that this book is set in that geography. Stef Penney is a new discovery for me and I am glad I found her. An easy read with some interesting plot twists.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 78 reviews
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Secrets, lies & Gypsy spells... Nov. 30 2011
By Patto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The spell worked on me. I had to put my life on hold until I finished reading this book. How could I resist the likeable mongrel Gypsy private eye with his private life in shreds? Or the secretive Gypsy family plagued with death and disease? Or the mad behavior of the Gypsy shaman?

Private investigator Ray Lovell is half Gypsy, which is why a Gypsy father hires him to look for his missing daughter Rose. An outsider won't get anywhere questioning Gypsies. Thanks to Ray's relentless probing, we get a fascinating look at the lifestyle of present-day Travelers in England. Rather than living in caravans, they live in trailers. That may not sound exotic, but you'll see. It is.

And the family Rose married into is particularly mysterious. There have been a shocking number of deaths among them.

The structure of the book is quite clever. Chapters are alternately narrated by the dogged, self-deprecating investigator without a clue - and a charming young Gypsy boy equally clueless about what's going on.

The author is an accomplished writer who handles her outré subject matter with grace and wit. The characters are fascinating people, from the old Gypsy man obsessed with pure black blood to the grouchy femme fatale in red high heels.

The plot withstood all my efforts to unravel it. I loved the shocking beginning. And although the ending is a bit far fetched, I went with it.

I'd definitely recommend this book to readers in search of a new kind of thrill from their next thriller. And readers who might like a genre bending mix of mystery and literature.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Disappointed June 10 2012
By Bibliophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Meh! And another for good measure! Meh!
Not a patch on The Tenderness of Wolves

I loved her debut novel ~ it had a great sense of place and time, with an interesting and diverse set of characters who were threaded through intriguing plotlines.

This also had lots of characters, but they didn't always hold my interest. I found the alternate chapters in the voice of the young teenager lacked verisimilitude (at time I wondered if he was supposed to be a bit "slow" given the clumsy dialogue and thoughts expressed by the character). In fact, the male pespective from her characters didn't ring true.

The gypsy theme was interesting and and an unusual background for the detective novel but it lacked "noir" for me. The investigation drags, probably because there are so many asides about the characters and their love lives, and ultimately it is too convoluted.

I didn't see the big twist coming at the end ... and I wondered if the author knew it was coming ... or decided as she wrote the last chapters just which of the red herrings she would follow up. Too much, too convoluted, and yet, too superficial.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Traveling Grace and Settled Misery Dec 18 2011
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Leon Wood, a Traveling Gypsy, mainly hires London PI Ray Lovell to find the daughter he hasn't seen in six years because Lovell is half Gypsy himself. Young Rose Wood proves a tough quarry, but Lovell finds a family so entrenched in its secrets that the line between reality and myth blurs to inconsequence. One Gypsy teen may hold the secret, if he can survive the struggle of discovering his own obscure ancestry.

Scottish author Stef Penney offers an unhurried literary mystery. But the missing persons case proves less important than the identity issues that the characters' culture clash produces. Ray Lovell is settled and intensely English, while the Woods and the Jankos live in Airstream trailers, beyond the fringes of British politesse. Both struggle with the limits of acceptance in a society that denies their legitimacy.

Ray Lovell's father abandoned that ship. He joined the army, married an English girl, bought a house, and became British. JJ Janko, the missing girl's nephew, lives with a family dedicated to "purity." Their circle of trailers forms their fortress against encroaching British assimilation, even as they send young JJ to state school, and chivvy work on the fly. JJ both covets and fears the British culture that surrounds his family enclave.

When Lovell and the Jankos move in on each other, each reminds the other what they are not. Lovell cannot return to the life his father abandoned, even though his peers always remind him that, as a Gyppo, he stands outside the British class system. JJ Janko sees Lovell as an example of the quintessentially British life he'd like, which he sees while standing outside his schoolmates' brick houses and cultivated gardens.

Beneath this conflict lingers Christo Janko, sickly son of Ivo Janko and Rose Wood. The Jankos blame Rose for fleeing her uninspiring marriage and weak child, whose illness gradually sucks his life away through most of the book. The Jankos pray for a miracle, literally, with a trip to Lourdes in the bargain. However, Lovell-- settled, British, and secular-- finagles Christio in with a cutting-edge London doctor who may hold the key.

Lovell doesn't know, however, how Christo's illness explains Rose Wood's disappearance.

Stef Penney uses the trappings of mystery, but these are essentially ornament. This story really deals with identity and social role. Britain's class-based society doesn't allow many people to move on the scale, especially in this novel's Thatcherite milieu. Everyone is trapped to a certain extent. But how much of this trap begins in the characters' own heads? Could they change, if they wanted to? And can they accept what that change would entail?

Penney's career as a filmmaker comes across in this book. You can practically see the cross-fades and jump-cuts in how she sets her scenes. But that's part of the voice that makes this such an eminently readable book. And her haunting characters, like Brontë or Tolstoy, will linger long after you close the covers.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Couldn't put it down! Dec 12 2011
By Daffy Du - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Invisible Ones combines a mystery with a fascinating look at the culture of Britain's traveling people--Gypsies who continue the peripatetic lifestyles of their colorful forebears. Today their homes are trailers, towed by vans and trucks, rather than the horse-drawn painted wooden wagons of old, but many of their traditions remain intact, even as they navigate the modern world.

The book is set in the 1980s and is told from the perspective of two key players: Ray Lovell, a private investigator who is half Gypsy, and JJ Smith, a 14-year-old boy who's a member of the traveler family Ray is investigating. Rose Woods, who married JJ's uncle Ivo, disappeared seven years earlier, and her father, recently widowed, is fearing the worst, so engages Ray to find her or at least determine what happened to her. He is convinced that only someone with a Gypsy background will gain the access necessary to carry out the job. Ray is reluctant because of an earlier missing person case that ended badly, but business is slow, so he accepts the job, becoming entangled in the lives of the extended Janko/Smith family, a mystery in and of itself.

Stef Penney, a screenwriter, is an excellent novelist, with a born storyteller's sense of pacing, knowing just how much to reveal to keep her readers captivated. She's adept at getting inside her main characters' heads and has recreated a world most people know little or nothing about, especially its modern-day incarnation. As the story unfolds, mysteries build upon mysteries, and I devoured the book, enjoying every page.

Now I'm keen to read her first book, The Tenderness of Wolves.

Five enthusiastic stars. Highly recommended.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
very good, unusual mystery Jan. 12 2012
By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
After I have read "The Tenderness of Wolves" I knew I would impatiently wait for Stef Penney's new book. I know many of the other readers felt like this, too. We had to wait a while... But here it is. "The Invisible Ones" although set in a completely different environment, fulfills the expectations - it is a great, complex mystery, with interesting social background, wonderful detective figure and other interesting characters, and intriguing turns of action.

Private detective Ray Lovell, who usually works on cases of unfaithful spouses, receives a visit from an elderly man, Leon Wood, a Gypsy, who recognizes Ray as one of "them" (although Ray is only half Romany) and therefore entrusts him with a mission of finding his daughter Rose, who has been missing for seven years. Ray, melancholic after losing his wife (he is delaying signing the divorce papers) is initially hesitant, but he quickly gets drawn into the mystery and gets emotionally involved.

Rose Wood had married Ivo Janko, a beautiful young man from the "pureblood" Gypsy family, but then she disappeared. The Janko family claim she run off, but her father is convinced she must be dead. Ray interviews the members of the extended Janko family, and gets to know Ivo and his son Christo, marked by a hereditary disease, Ivo's father, Tene, the family patriarch, his sister and her husband, and their daughter and her teenage son JJ (who is narrating the chapters alternately with Ray). But the most interesting for Ray, and hiding her own secret, is Tene's younger sister, Lulu.

The mystery immerses the reader in the world of the Travelers, showing the differences between them and "gorjios" and the attitudes of both groups to one another, seen from different angles and generational perspectives. The story is really good, Ray, although he is a decent private investigator, has to go back on his trail several times - a lot of clues turn out to be false or misleading. I really enjoyed the whole concept and I was not disappointed in Stef Penney's idea and her writing.

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