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Patricia Craig

23 April 1987
A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine​ (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara​ Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... dilemma is adumbrated. Highly charged and elliptical, Fool’s Sanctuary is unlike the other works under review, in being written by an author susceptible to the glamour in ill-fated associations. BarbaraVine, Ruth Rendell’s alter ego, has written her second enthralling novel: A Fatal Inversion is about the fatal convergence of some more or less unlikeable young people, during the sweltering summer ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne

8 December 1988
A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... warning.’ The motionlessness of any photograph is here reinforced by the absolute inertness of corpses, of a shocking history. Murderous violence has been half-normalised in The House of Stairs by BarbaraVine (the pseudonym of the crime writer Ruth Rendell), whose narrator Elizabeth Vetch has in the 1980s to deal with a friend, Bell Sanger, who has served a ‘life sentence’ for a late Sixties ...

Diamond Daggers

Stephen Wall

28 June 1990
Death’s Darkest Face 
by Julian Symons.
Macmillan, 272 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 333 51783 0
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Vendetta 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 281 pp., £12.99, June 1990, 0 571 14332 6
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Gallowglass 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 296 pp., £13.99, March 1990, 0 670 83241 3
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... aged state may be all too recognisable but doesn’t do much to energise our sympathies. As his private life only goes to show, he’s not an involving man. The novels she writes under the name BarbaraVine seem to be Ruth Rendell’s out-patient department, and certainly in Gallow-glass little Joe – as his enigmatic friend Sandor calls him – looks like a deserving candidate for community care ...
7 August 1986
A Taste for Death 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 454 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13799 7
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A Dark-Adapted Eye 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 300 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 670 80976 4
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Dead Men’s Morris 
by Gladys Mitchell.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 7181 2553 3
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Laurels are poison 
by Gladys Mitchell.
Hogarth, 237 pp., £2.95, June 1986, 0 7012 1010 9
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Dido and Pa 
by Joan Aiken.
Cape, 251 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 0 224 02364 0
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... and an unsociable tramp, each with its throat slit, are discovered in the vestry of a Paddington church. This is a splendid opening for a detective novel. Ruth Rendell likewise, under her new name of BarbaraVine, kicks off in striking style: ‘On the morning Vera died I woke up very early.’ Vera Hillyard, we learn within a line or two, is scheduled to die by hanging at the usual hour of eight in the ...

How criminals think

John Lanchester

13 September 1990
Love and Death on Long Island 
by Gilbert Adair.
Heinemann, 138 pp., £10.95, July 1990, 9780434006229
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Going wrong 
by Ruth Rendell.
Hutchinson, 250 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 09 174300 1
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The Burden of Proof 
by Scott Turow.
Bloomsbury, 515 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7475 0673 6
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Crucible of Fools 
by M.S. Power.
Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp., £12.99, August 1990, 0 241 13006 9
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... bungling. Going wrong is particularly impressive when one considers that it’s Rendell’s second accomplished novel this year: the other, Gallowglass, was published in February under the pseudonym BarbaraVine. (I had thought that Ruth Rendell used that name for her in-the-mind-of-a-psycho novels, in which case it could very appositely have been used for her new book. As a reader and fan of Vine ...

Diary

Jonathan Lethem: My Egyptian Cousin

12 December 2002
... Europe; Saad Eddin Ibrahim is an advocate of democracy imprisoned in Egypt. But Saad and I are both outlying members of the same sprawling Midwestern family: Saad is married to my first cousin Barbara. His name is much in the news and on the op-ed pages these days, if you’re looking out for it. A year ago, the New York Times Magazine ran a photo of Saad on its cover, in which he is seen peering ...
6 August 1992
Curriculum Vitae 
by Muriel Spark.
Constable, 213 pp., £14.95, July 1992, 0 09 469650 0
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... that her writing comes to have such beauty and such force. You have only to glance at the work of copyists and pale cousins like the vaguely mischievous Fay Weldon, the clodhopping misanthropic BarbaraVine, to understand that Spark’s use of that gorgeously ‘cemp’ posh-Scottish written voice of hers is really special. Not to mention a host of younger would-be poseuses and charmers who manage ...

At the British Library

Mary Wellesley: Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

22 November 2018
... came from Italy, though the spacing of its words shows the influence of Irish scribal practice. It is bound in the Coptic style, using a chainstitch method, while its binding design incorporates a vine and chalice motif found in Eastern Mediterranean art – a similar design appears on the fifth or sixth-century doors of the church of Sitt Barbara in Cairo. In stitches, spaces and leather tooling ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street

3 February 1983
... material he’s judging. For myself, I read James more for the laughs than for the lectures on why Hot Gossip ought not to cavort in Nazi gear. I read him, too, for his lovable obsessions – with Barbara Woodhouse, with Sue-Ellen’s mouth, with David Vine, and with all things Japanese – and for his willingness to admit that vulgar stuff is best watched fairly vulgarly: ‘You would have to be dead ...
22 February 1996
Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... had, single-handedly, made the arcane popular. A trip through the States visiting the Beat gerontocracy, the survivors, had prepared me for this. In Corso’s hutch, his minders begged for copies of Barbara Pym, while Gregory spoke wistfully of Philip Larkin. Denton Welch was William Burroughs’s main intellectual squeeze. Ferlinghetti had high hopes for Jeremy Reed. The Beats were now heritage fodder ...

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