The Birthday Present
By Barbara Vine
(Crown, Hardcover, 9780307451989, 336pp.)
Publication Date: March 10, 2009
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Ivor Tesham is a handsome, single, young member of Parliament whose political star is on the rise. When he meets a woman in a chance encounter–a beautiful, leggy, married woman named Hebe–the two become lovers obsessed with their trysts, spiced up by what the newspapers like to call “adventure sex.”
It’s the dress-up and role-play that inspire Ivor to create a surprise birthday present for his beloved that involves a curbside kidnapping. It’s all intended as mock-dangerous foreplay, but then things take a dark turn.
After things go horribly wrong, Ivor begins to receive anonymous letters that reveal astonishingly speciﬁc details about the affair and its aftermath. Somehow he must keep his role from being uncovered–and his political future from being destroyed by scandal.
Like a heretic on the inquisitor’s rack, Ivor is not to be spared the exquisitely slow and tortuous unfolding of events, as hints, nuances, and small revelations lay his darkest secrets hideously bare for all the world to see.
The Birthday Present is a deft, insightful, and compulsively readable exploration of obsessive desire–and the dark twists of fate that can shake the lives of even those most insulated by privilege, sophistication, and power.
Barbara Vine’s acclaimed novels include The Minotaur, The Blood Doctor, and Anna’s Book. She has won many awards for literary accomplishment, both as Barbara Vine and as Ruth Rendell, including three Edgar Awards and four Gold Daggers.
Praise for Barbara Vine
“One of the most remarkable novelists of her generation.”
“The best mystery writer in the English-speaking world.”
“One of the ﬁnest practitioners of her craft in the English-speaking world.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Her clear, shapely prose casts the mesmerizing spell of the confessional.”
—The New Yorker
“A brilliant writer.”
“Queen of suspense. . . . She’s a master of technique.”
—Detroit Free Press
“Surely one of the greatest novelists presently at work in our language.”
“Those who haven’t read her books have missed something unique and wonderful.”
“Barbara Vine has transcended her genre by her remarkable imaginative power to explore and illuminate the dark corners of the human psyche.”
—P. D. James
“Unequivocally the most brilliant mystery writer of our time. She magniﬁcently triumphs in a style that is uniquely hers and mesmerizing.”