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A Dark-Adapted Eye Paperback – Oct 1 1993

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (Oct. 1 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452270642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452270640
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.8 x 17 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 286 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #517,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Writing under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, Ruth Rendell departs from her famous detective team of Wexford and Burden to tell a gripping tale of family madness. Vera Hillyard is a domineering and possessive woman who strives for obsessive control over a malicious older son, a youngest son who is--or isn't--illegitimate, and a daughter who is a devoted sister to her younger brother. The daughter secretly seeks to escape Vera's grasp and instead provokes a murder. This winner of the 1986 Edgar Award for best mystery novel belongs to the genre of old murders reconsidered and the question of who did what to whom and why is teasingly left unresolved.


"A superb psychological thriller... this is a smashing performance." -- San Diego Union

"Sophie Ward does an excellent job spinning the tale and edging the listener closer to its gripping conclusion. Her British accent and buoyant voice are excellent for the niece's first-person narrative and the female characters. Her portrayal of the complex family dynamics is compelling." -- AudioFile, November 1994 --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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 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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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