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Extended Audio Sample The Minotaur: A Novel Audiobook, by Barbara Vine Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Barbara Vine Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2006 ISBN: 9781415922088
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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 thirty-nine-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.

Also available in a Random House Large Print edition and as an eBook

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Quotes & Awards

  • One of the most remarkable novelists of her generation. People
  • The best mystery writer in the English-speaking world. Time
  • My dream writer. Her crime studies are subtle, mysterious affairs that never turn out quite the way you anticipate. Her characters have secret, often ugly depths that make them strangers with uncomfortably familiar features. And her prose style, so intricate in design and supple in execution, has the disquieting intimacy of an alien touch in the dark. Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
  • Surely one of the greatest novelists presently at work in our language. Scott Turow
  • Those who haven’t read her books have missed something unique and wonderful. Tony Hillerman
  • 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. Patricia Cornwell
  • Her clear, shapely prose casts the mesmerizing spell of the confessional. The New Yorker
  • One of the finest practitioners of her craft in the English-speaking world. The New York Times Book Review
  • “Typically in a Vine production, whodunit is less momentous than how in the orld it could have happened…The Minotaur…conjur[es] up a genteel English milieu that breeds violence…How the dynamics of this backbiting family resolved themselves is the burden of Kerstin’s story. Elegant and gripping.”

    Washington Post

  • The Minotaur, oozing with menace and malice, is a superb piece of work. It deserves to win lots of prizes.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • “Once again writing as Vine, acclaimed mystery writer Ruth Rendell hones in on the mysteries of the psyche. In this novel, set in the late 1960s, an autistic man, a dysfunctional family, and an innocent young woman become entangled in a web of deceit…A layered, intriguing tale with odd, almost caricatured characters and subtle twists.”

    Library Journal

  • “The tale starts as a medical mystery, with Kvist trying to determine what is wrong with the heir to the family fortune. It segues into a Victorian novel of manners when Kvist discovers a plot to wrest the fortune away, a plot that predictably leads to murder. 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.”


  • “A Swedish nurse, in order to be near her lover in London, takes a post in Essex only to find that love is in dangerously short supply at Lydstep Old Hall…The combustible family—dysfunctional before the word was invented—is the perfect setup for Vine’s trademark long-deferred violence. Using the conventions of a Victorian pastiche, Vine presents as satisfying a family of monsters as you’re likely to find. It’s like watching a house of cards collapse in exquisite slow motion.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Ruth Rendell, in her Barbara Vine guise, is in top form here with a thoroughly modern gothic novel…Rosalyn Landor’s lovely oboe voice subtly distinguishes among the ladies of this creepy family as well as artfully modulates the tension as it builds around the appalled young narrator.”


  • Winner of the 2007 Gumshoe Award for Best European Crime Novel

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 6/4/2011

    " This book was a relatively light read about a young woman who is employed by a dysfunctional family. Unmemorable but enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirstin | 3/8/2011

    " Interesting style. I loved how she delved into each character's quirky personality. Very enjoyable book with an ending I didn't expect. I will seek out more of her books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 1/19/2011

    " I like Barbara Vine--she dribble out hints of what's to come but lets the main character tell the story as it happened to her. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea | 8/22/2010

    " I picked up the audio version of this at the library. I probably enjoyed it a bit more as an audio book than I would have as a standard book, as the reading gave it a bit more interest. It was slow-moving and anticlimactic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharonm | 6/6/2010

    " This one dragged a bit. Story of an autistic man and his bizarre family. Sort of a modern day (well, 1950s) gothic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eileen | 3/26/2010

    " This wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be... but it was ok. Not a waste of time by any means. "

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About the Author
Author Barbara Vine

Barbara Vine is a pseudonym for Ruth Rendell, who has won numerous awards, including three Edgars, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as three Gold Daggers, a Silver Dagger, and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writer’s Association. A member of the House of Lords, she lives in London.

About the Narrator

Gabrielle de Cuir, award-winning narration, has narrated over two hundred titles and specializes in fantasy, humor, and titles requiring extensive foreign language and accent skills. She was a cowinner of the Audie Award for best narration in 2011 and a three-time finalist for the Audie and has garnered six AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her “velvet touch” as an actor’s director has earned her a special place in the audiobook world as the foremost producer for bestselling authors and celebrities.