Thursday, 18 March 2010

Blacklands by Belinda Bauer


DATE READ: March 2010

NOTES: Steven is a troubled young boy – he feels unloved, he is bullied by “hoodies” in his community and he is very conscious that his family is still grieving over his uncle (Billy) who disappeared some nineteen years previously. Billy’s body has never been found but it is generally believed that he was murdered by a serial killer now in prison. Steven feels that if only Billy’s body could be found then his grandmother and his mother could turn their attention away from their grief and towards him.

From this beginning Belinda Bauer has produced a cleverly plotted, intense thriller. The story moves at a brisk pace and she keeps the suspense going right to the end. She invokes the sense of place of Exmoor – we can well believe its dark secrets. Steven is a good central character and the reader is drawn to support him in his plan. Arnold Avery, the serial killer, is suitably devious and evil – a psychopath who can only view the world from his own distorted viewpoint.

I like crime thrillers and “police procedurials” but am never really happy with plots involving paedophilia and child murder….and Blacklands was in parts a very uncomfortable and creepy read.

The actual ending (and I don’t want to give anything away) was just a bit too unbelievable – and based on all the information given earlier in the book – physically impossible.

A very good first novel – a name to remember.

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