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The Minotaur | [Barbara Vine]

The Minotaur

As soon as Kerstin Kvist arrives at remote, ivy-covered Lydstep Old Hall in Essex, she feels like a character in a gothic novel. A young nurse fresh out of school, Kerstin has been hired for a position with the Cosway family, residents of the Hall for generations. She is soon introduced to her "charge", John Cosway, a 39-year-old man whose strange behavior is vaguely explained by his mother and sisters as part of the madness that runs in the family.
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Publisher's Summary

As soon as Kerstin Kvist arrives at remote, ivy-covered Lydstep Old Hall in Essex, she feels like a character in a gothic novel. A young nurse fresh out of school, Kerstin has been hired for a position with the Cosway family, residents of the Hall for generations. She is soon introduced to her "charge", John Cosway, a 39-year-old man whose strange behavior is vaguely explained by his mother and sisters as part of the madness that runs in the family.

Weeks go by at Lydstep with little to mark the passage of time beyond John's daily walks and the amusingly provincial happenings that engross the Cosway women, and Kerstin occupies her many free hours at the Hall reading or making entries into her diary. Meanwhile, bitter wrangling among Julia Cosway and her four grown daughters becomes increasingly evident. But this is just the most obvious of the tensions that charge the old remote estate, with its sealed rooms full of mystery. Soon Kerstin will find herself in possession of knowledge she will wish she'd never attained, secrets that will propel the occupants of Lydstep Old Hall headlong into sexual obsession, betrayal, and, finally, murder.

©2006 Barbara Vine; (P)2006 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"Palpable, and...satisfying." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is very satisfying reading, a sort of blend of Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Trollope. Readers of both Rendell and Vine will love this expansive excursion." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (110 )
5 star
 (32)
4 star
 (38)
3 star
 (25)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.7 (27 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.4 (25 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Susan B. Bay Area, CA 12-12-07
    Susan B. Bay Area, CA 12-12-07 Member Since 2005

    Susan B.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    77
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    "Top notch Barbara Vine"

    Barbara Vine draws you along through the story, introducing history, bit by bit, the same way you get to know someone. By the end of the story you find yourself completely intrigued by the goings on. I wanted to listen to it again right after finishing it. Great for any fan of Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell, one of the best of hers I've "read".

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. A Dunn The beautiful South 02-06-08
    E. A Dunn The beautiful South 02-06-08 Member Since 2004

    laineyd

    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
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    5
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    "Good, but misleading genre"

    This is a wonderfully written book, with fine lines of humor, suspense, and tragedy. I would not, however, call it a mystery as some have. There is some mystery to the story, in that you glimpse the end in the beginning and you wonder how things get there, but it is not a "whodunnit".
    PS: Very well read.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yennta L.A., CA 08-04-09
    Yennta L.A., CA 08-04-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    198
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    "SIX STARS."

    Six stars. Maybe her best, and she's so amazingly good! I've just re-listened to this book. It was absolutely riveting the second time around, just like the first. It's PERFECT. Perfect characters, perfect everything. I could see it, feel it, smell it. Rosalyn Landor was also, just perfect. This is just a terrific book.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Charlotte, NC, United States 07-21-09
    Joan Charlotte, NC, United States 07-21-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engaging"

    The audio is well read and the story is terrific. The story unfolds like those told by another favorite mystery writer of mine--PD James. It is full of emotion, vivid characters, and a chilling environment that mirrors the internal lives of some of the characters. I've always liked Barbara Vine, but this is my favorite. I can still hear the narrator's voice matter of factly telling the tale of life in this highly charged country family.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Woodville, TX, United States 12-01-12
    Marie Woodville, TX, United States 12-01-12 Member Since 2004

    I love mysteries in the style of P.D. James, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Peters, Dave Duncan, etc. I love sci fi written by Issac Asimov (the robot books), Douglas Adams, Jack McDevitt (Alex Benedict series) and Susan Collins. I love fantasy written by Terry Pratchett, and Kim Harrison. I love Kate Morton. I don't like graphic descriptions of violence.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Vine with Landor is the best"
    Where does The Minotaur rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    very high


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main character, of course.


    Any additional comments?

    Trying to describe the effect of this book is like trying to describe great sex. It is just best to experience it. I immediately checked to see if Audible had any other books written by Vine and read by Landor. Such an experience should be repeated. No luck, but there was a Barbara Vine with Robert Powell. Variety is the spice . . . . P.S. You won’t find any dry, boring sex-by-numbers in this book.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    starjazz Temple Hills, MD, United States 05-18-11
    starjazz Temple Hills, MD, United States 05-18-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Conflicted Intriguing Drawn Out Cozy Read"

    Not really sure how to describe a mystery that is truly drawn out and yet intriguing... The slow suspense and red herrings were not enough to say this was an enjoyable listen. I would recommend worthy of special sale but NOT a credit. It requires patience but draws you in.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rahim Hamilton, United States Minor Outlying Islands 08-12-10
    Rahim Hamilton, United States Minor Outlying Islands 08-12-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    Overall
    "Very slow"

    I enjoyed the modern "gothic" novels of Barbara Michaels and had a friend recommend this book. Thick atmosphere, but terrible pacing- very slow moving. At the end of Part I, realized that only a handful of events had occurred that actually moved the plot forward. There is also a little skipping in the recording. I did like the narrator which is why I gave it two stars.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alicia Czechowski Baltimore Maryland 12-26-13
    Alicia Czechowski Baltimore Maryland 12-26-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Trendy Rendy"

    The Minotaur started out fairly well, although I am not a fan of first-person narratives, the lazy authors fall-back. But soon the meandering tale of "family secrets" became wearying and Kirsten, in the character of narrator, grew flatter by the page. How can someone who is supposed to be a cartoonist write an epic tale without a trace of wit, humor or irony? I have known many, many professional cartoonists and, to a man (or woman) they are founts of comic mots and outrageous witticism and are especially adept at black humor. Then, comes the trendy autism theme which seems like a how-do-I-get-out-of-this-mess plot device, ending in dull summary. Is Ruth running out of steam, or does she just not want to send us her very best anymore?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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