Monday, January 16, 2012
Book Thoughts - The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
published January, 2012
Synopsis from publisher:
Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance.
I enjoy a mystery that winds up in a completely different place than where I thought we were going, and The Invisible Ones certainly did that. I always like trying to figure out the "twist", so when the big secret that I'd guessed was revealed about 2/3 of the way through the novel, I felt quite proud of myself - and then wondered what else could possibly happen. Well, let me tell you. Lots.
The Invisible Ones was a bit of a slow starter for me - it's narrative alternates between Ray's point of view and JJ, who is the young nephew of the Janko family, and initially I was much more interested in JJ's story. Something about Ray seemed to be pushing me away, and I'm not sure I ever quite found much sympathy for him. JJ, however, was a delight of a character, and one that I would enthusiastically read more about. His interest in life and the people around him was palpable, and really made the novel work for me.
The Gypsy lifestyle and culture is quite interesting - I've watched a few episodes of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" on tv, and could see similarities between the family portrayed in this book and the lives and opinions I've watched on television. Penney's account of this unique lifestyle felt very authentic, and I believe she spent much time learning their customs and beliefs.
Overall, it was an interesting and compelling read. The mystery kept me interested, and JJ kept me entertained throughout. I don't expect it to be on my list of favorites for the year, but it was a nice way to spend a few days.
Source: review copy from publisher - thank you!
MPAA rating: PG-13 for language, adult situations, and some violence
My rating: 7/10