Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: Blacklands

, Mysteries
Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve year old Steven is obsessed with digging holes in the moor. He's been digging for three years now, because eighteen years ago his uncle Billy disappeared on the way home from the shops and his body has never been found. Billy's little boy room is still as he left it, a forbidden shrine to a life cut short. Arnold Avery confessed to the murder of six children whose bodies he buried on the moor, but Billy Peters wasn't one of the six. It's as if he vanished into thin air, with only his room to show he ever existed at all...

Steven's nan believes Billy is still alive, and in between snapping at Steven, his brother and his mum, she stares out the window waiting for Billy to come home. Steven believes he can make his nan happy, which would make his mother happy (and maybe then she could keep a man), if only he could find Uncle Billy's burial place. He won't give up, and soon decides he must get more creative than digging random holes all over Exmoor.

When Arnold Avery receives the first letter from Steven, the game is on. Each believes he's playing with the other, manipulating and revealing just enough to get what he wants.

This isn't a fast-paced graphic thriller, but its slowness is the slowness of a creeping descent into horror. The originality of a child protagonist pitted against a serial killing pedophile intrigued me, and Steven really got under my skin. I couldn't stop reading.

Belinda Bauer's next book in the Exmoor trilogy, Blacklands (Exmoor Trilogy #2), is definitely on my TBR pile.

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