The Invisible Ones – Book Review

You take your fragile secret out of the darkness and expose it to the light. You lay it on the ground, where anyone can tread on it. – from The Invisible Ones –

Ray is a private detective who is working through his own personal demons after separating from his wife. He doesn’t like missing person cases so it is with some reluctance that he listens to a Romany man tell him about his missing daughter, a girl gone six years now. Despite his reticence, Ray finds himself pulled into the case and promising to find out what happened to Rose Janko all those years ago after she wed a Gypsy named Ivo.

JJ is Ivo’s nephew, a fourteen year old boy without a father who has grown curious about his family’s secrets. He loves his cousin Christo, Ivo’s son, who is suffering from a mysterious family disease. JJ wants nothing more than to find a cure for Christo and uncover the identity of the father he has never met.

As Ray and JJ get closer to understanding what is hidden beneath the surface of the Janko family, things get more dangerous, and what appears to be the truth ends up being something entirely different from what they expect.

Set in Northern England in the mid-1980s, Stef Penney’s second novel takes the reader on a convoluted journey to uncover a mystery. Rich in detail about the nomadic life of the Romany people, The Invisible Ones is an intriguing and well-written book. There are two narrative threads which intertwine. JJ’s point of view is that of an insider, while Ray (although part-Gypsy himself) is clearly viewed as an outsider. In large part, the novel deals with the idea of identity and how the cultural, familial, and individual roles we play come together to form the complete person.

Strange, isn’t it, how you can think of yourself as one thing for ninety-five percent of your waking life, and then an encounter with something or someone jerks you into remembering you’re something else, that other five percent that’s always been there, but slumbering, keeping its head down. – from The Invisible Ones –

Penney has a way of constructing her novels to provide tension. This novel had me guessing right up until the end when Penney inserts a twist I did not see coming. Despite some moments of implausibility, the plot of this novel held up in the end.

Readers who enjoy suspense mysteries embedded in family sagas will enjoy The Invisible Ones.


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FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

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    • Jill on January 30, 2012 at 17:20

    I just finished this book! Totally surprised by the ending. Great book; total page turner. Ray reminded me of Jackson Brodie.. 🙂

      • Wendy on January 30, 2012 at 18:24

      The twist in this one, Jill, was great…never saw that one coming! Glad you enjoyed it too.

    • Tui on January 30, 2012 at 18:18

    This sounds like a really interesting one, Wendy. Good review!

      • Wendy on January 30, 2012 at 18:25

      It was good, Tui…thanks 🙂

    • zibilee on January 31, 2012 at 06:27

    I am interested in this one because of the gypsy aspect, and think that the plot points surrounding the characters sounds interesting as well. I am glad that you enjoyed the book, and that the you didn’t see the twist coming. It’s always nice when that happens! Great review today!

  1. This sounds like a good one. Maybe when I have some time to read some other books in march.

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