Friday, 11 February 2011

Book Review: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

Genre:  Mystery,Suspense,Crime,Psychological Thriller
Published by:  Corgi  (2009)
Pages:  348  (Paperback)
My Rating:  9/10


About the Book
A psychological thriller about the cat-and-mouse game between a boy desperately seeking the truth about this uncle's murder and the murderer himself.

Twelve year old Steven is lonely and feels unloved by his family.  His nan spends most of her days staring out of her window waiting for a son who will never come home and he knows his mother loves his little brother more than him; he rarely experiences praise and he can never do anything right in her eyes.
19 years ago his Uncle Billy (who was only 11 at the time) disappeared just 200 yards from his home and the family's anguish and suffering began and has never ended.
Every afternoon Steven goes digging on the moors convinced that if he found his Uncle Billy's body his nan would notice and love him and everyone would be pleased and Steven would feel happy.
The digging had given his life a purpose.
He then decides to write to a convicted child serial killer, Arnold Avery, who was the main suspect for Billy's disappearance, thus a chilling game of cat and mouse begins. Steven was writing to the Devil and asking for mercy.
The slow build up in suspense creates an atmosphere of tension and fear as the letters go back and forth and I felt very uncomfortable reading the serial killer's thoughts as he recalled some of the children he'd abducted.  Bauer does not, thankfully, go into too much detail here but what is left unsaid is probably more chilling.
I did feel that the prison part of the book took up too much of the story and I found myself feeling a little bored and was glad when the story returned to Steven.
The descriptions of the wild and desolate moors added to the chilling feel throughout the novel and I could almost see the mist and feel the icy wind blowing across the pages.
This is such an original plotline which I found difficult to put down.

Belinda Bauer's debut novel won the CWA Gold Dagger for the crime novel of 2010.  Her official website can be found here
Her new novel 'Darkside' is out now.

This is my 2nd book in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge
1st Book in The Great Transworld Crime Caper


  1. great review! i might have to check out this one myself. I do enjoy a nice, dark thriller every now and then.
    I look forward to the next one.

    David Smithson

  2. Hi David, Thanks! I hope you enjoy the book if you get it.



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