The Invisible Ones
By Stef Penney
Completed January 30, 2012
Ray Lovell is an almost-divorced private investigator who has sworn off missing persons cases. However, when a Gypsy man approaches him to find his long-lost daughter, Ray feels the pull of his Romany past and agrees to help the man. This begins the page-turning, suspense-filled novel, The Invisible Ones, by Stef Penney.
Ray has his work cut out for him. Even though his dad was Gypsy, he’s an outsider to the Janko family, and he needs to build their trust to help him find the lost girl, Rose Janko. Rose had married Ivo Janko, and according to the family, she had disappeared shortly after the birth of their child, Christo. As Ray investigates, things don’t add up as neatly as the Janko family would have him believe.
The Invisible Ones has two narrators: Ray, who leads the reader though the investigation, and JJ, the nephew of the missing Rose. JJ is only 14 and on a journey of his own: to help his cousin, Christo, who is ill with a strange disease, and to find more about his own estranged father. Both narrators are complex, emotional and very human – adding a sense of reality to a story that could almost be written off as implausible.
Penney executes The Invisible Ones like a writer with 20 years experience under her belt. After her successful debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, one might wonder if Penney would suffer from a sophomore slump. To that, I would say “definitely not.” The Invisible Ones is a gripping story about grief and loss – one that had me up late at night to learn more about this complex family saga.
Fans of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie character will find a welcome home in this novel (Jackson and Ray remind me of each other) – but even if you don’t like mysteries or suspense dramas, I would encourage you to give The Invisible Ones a try. At its surface, it’s a murder mystery, but when you peel away the layers, the book emerges as a fine piece of writing craft. ( )
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.