Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney

Ray Jarrell doesn't do missing person cases.  Early in his private detective days, he managed to find a girl who the police couldn't locate after months of trying.  He felt like the best detective in the world.  At least until the girl was killed by the family she had been trying to escape all along.

But something about this missing girl, Rose Janko, touches him and tests his resolve.  Her father appeals to Ray's background and he knows that only someone with his background has a chance of finding Rose.  For Rose is a gypsy and that culture is totally closed to outsiders.  Ray is half-gypsy, and knows that he can get information that won't be given to anyone else.

Rose was married at nineteen to Ivo Janko and they quickly had a baby, Christo.  Rose disappeared soon after.  The stories vary.  Some say she met a gorjio (anyone not a gypsy) and ran away to get married.  Some say she couldn't face the fact that Christo has inherited the Janko family illness and will probably not make to adulthood.  Whatever the reason, no one has heard of her for six years.

Ray takes the case and starts to investigate.  Rose lived with the Janko family and that's where he starts.  There's Tene, the patriarch of the family, paralyzed after a car crash but determined to keep the family together.  Ivo and Cristo share a trailer.  Tene's sister and her husband share another, while their child, Sandra, and her son, JJ, live in the last trailer of the compound.  As Ray starts to peel away the layers that hide the family secrets, JJ also starts to investigate his family.  He has never known who his father was and hopes to gain that knowledge as Ray reveals more and more.  He isn't sure if he is really ready for all the secrets he never expected his family to be hiding.

Stef Penney has created an interesting novel sure to keep the reader's interest.  The story is told in alternating chapters by Ray and JJ, each sharing the nuggets of information they find and putting them together to create an answer of what happened to Rose and what secrets are the Janko family hiding.  The reader is drawn into the family and learns about a culture that most will never get a chance to know, that of the gypsy.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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