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Publisher's Summary

The First Lord Nanther, expert in blood diseases, particularly the royal disease of Heamophilia, and favoured physician to Queen Victoria, clearly hoped to be the subject of an admiring posthumous biography. But when his great-grandson, Martin Nanther begins to research his life for a biography, the Martin comes to suspect that his great-grandfather’s old records conceal more than they reveal. Henry had been obsessed with blood, to him, blood was a thing of beauty and he could not fathom how anyone could flinch or faint at the sight of it. As Martin’s research deepens, he begins to wonder whether the mysterious deaths of a number of friends and relatives of his great-grandfather really were mere coincidence or did Henry’s fascination with blood have a much darker side?
©2002 Kingsmarkham Enterprises Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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By connie on 07-09-11

clever, excellent storytelling

I didn't know what to expect from Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine (except good writing) and feared that this was some kind of gothic horror - but it is an absorbing character-driven story, with a mystery element very secondary. In fact, it's more of a puzzle than a mystery, pieced together in the course of the slowly moving narrative, with storylines nesting inside one another like Russian dolls.

Its tone reminded me a bit of French Lieutenant's Woman: Though not set in Victorian England, it evokes and reflects on that period in a similar way as the main character undertakes a biography of an ancestor. The story of writing the Victorian biography is so convincing that at times I forgot I was listening to fiction.

As another reviewer pointed out, there are serious editing glitches at around hour 5 and 5:45 of part 1 - annoying, but they don't ruin the listen. This is a slow listen - but that can be good - in fact, to me it's the best novel I've heard this past year (out of approximately 30-40).

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Margot on 10-19-10

I love the way her mind works

This is one of my favorite Barbara Vine novels, the other being THE MINOTAUR. This is a very good reader, which makes it a good story well-told in every way.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Carrie on 11-11-10

Complex and Convincing

This is among the best of the Barbara Vine books. The narrator, while researching the life of his great grandfather slowly uncovers tragedy. At the same time he can hardly control the way his own life is being swept along. The depth and detail of research, the interlinking themes, the convincing characters, their psychology and behaviours, the final resolutions make this a top quality work and a complete joy to have unabridged on audio book.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Julia on 12-13-17

Dry and dull

Struggled to get through it. Tedious and slow. Hard going and not engaging at all.

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