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Posts Tagged ‘Gypsy’

I was going to wait and save this book as part of a mystery round-up, but then I realized it would be a crime to wait. It’s not that often anymore that I sit down with a book and read it start-to-finish, reluctant to break for meals or other distractions. Thankfully, I finished Stef Penney’s The Invisible Ones before Downton Abbey started Sunday evening.

The novel’s set in 1980s England, where private investigator Ray Lovell wakes up in a hospital partly paralysed and fuzzy about the car crash that landed him there. He’s having trouble discerning between memories and dreams — nightmares, really — and so thinks farther back to when Leon Wood hired him to find his missing daughter, Rose, who married into a Gypsy family seven years ago and then disappeared.

Ray doesn’t like missing girl cases (the reason will eventually be revealed), but he’s half-Romany and familiar with the travelers’ culture, although he grew up in “bricks.” The Jankos are a traditional, nomadic  family, living in caravans parked at sites across the English countryside.

J.J. Smith, who narrates alternating chapters, is a 14-year-old member of the small Janko clan, the youngest except for his 6-year-old cousin, Christo, disabled by a mysterious inherited disease and son of the runaway Rose and husband Ivo.

As Ray discovers and J.J. reveals, the Jankos are a historically unlucky bunch at life and love. That they also have dark secrets, even from one another, is no surprise.

I guessed most of the plot twists early on, but that’s what I do. Having a good idea of what was going to happen didn’t stop me from the pleasures of Penney’s atmospheric, myth-tinged narrative. Her writing reminds me a bit of Tana French, who has blurbed the book in glowing terms. She also warns that “you will not get anything else done till you finish the last page of this book.”

My sentiments exactly.

Open Book: I won an ARC of Stef Penney’s The Invisible Ones (Putnam) in a publisher-sponsored contest for Shelf Awareness readers. I count myself lucky indeed, and now I’m going to find a copy of Penney’s first novel, The Tenderness of Wolves.

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