Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Rubbernecker - Belinda Bauer




‘Rubberneckers. Desperate for a glimpse of death.’


This is a cracking crime novel from Belinda Bauer. Patrick is a complex and yet rather endearing character who has Asperger’s syndrome. He has gone to University to study anatomy in order to try and solve his quest with regard to the death of his father when Patrick was a young boy. His father’s death left a hole in his life. He doesn’t get on well with his mother and she in turn struggles to deal with him.

The novel is also partly set in a neurological ward and we have as one of the narrators one of the people in a coma; he is struggling to muster up any communication that can be understood by the people watching him, those wanting him to return to life; this gives us a unique and fascinating viewpoint on events, and I felt this was a very clever device to use within the story. Another viewpoint is the selfish lazy nurse who was out for herself, this introduced another angle to events in the ward.

Patrick becomes intrigued about the cause of death of the body his group is working on dissecting in his anatomy class. Unlike most of the other students who are studying medicine and saving lives, Patrick has a specific quest which makes him singularly interested in anatomy as a means to answering the question which has dominated his thoughts since his father left his life. ‘He didn’t care what made people work. He was only interested in what happened whey they stopped…’

Patrick’s curiosity and determination is what drives the story forward. He slowly begins to find a new interest in his life, a new goal to solve the fresh mystery he has uncovered. He also developes a little in his interactions with people, such as with compassionate fellow student Meg, despite the boundaries and limitations of behaviour and understanding of others that his condition dictates.

There are so many wonderfully satisfying episodes in the plot which I wish I could write about but I can’t mention them here because they need to be discovered and savoured as you read.

The bringing together of the story arc of the whole novel from beginning to end was very cleverly done and something which I thought about at the end as all the revelations were complete. I loved the way the narrative is structured. Each character feels believable and compelling, and each of their individual parts of the story are so cleverly brought to a conclusion which integrates into the book as a whole.

There is some deliciously dark humour; at times I was laughing an awful lot and wondering whether I should really be laughing at these things, but the way Belinda Bauer writes these events is so clever, combining the gruesome with the ridiculous and mundane to superb effect.

There is genuine terror, suspense and intrigue throughout and I couldn’t read this book fast enough.

A brilliant read, a cracking and inventive mystery, cleverly written and darkly funny, and a standout book of the year so far. 

Published by Bantam Press on 31st January 2013

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an ebook of this novel to read and review in advance of publication.

You can follow news about the author on twitter @BelindaBauer

15 comments:

  1. I have this book on my shelf to read Lindsay so I've only slim read your review. I will come back when I've read it!

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I've tried not to include anything that's a spoiler but it wasn't easy and I often do the same (don't fully read reviews until I've finsiehd the book myself).

      I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did though and I look forward to seeing what you think.

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  2. I haven't read much crime fiction lately, but it's beginning to call me again and this sounds great.

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    1. This could be a good book to get you reading crime fiction again, if you like some dark humour as well as murder! Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I must get this - it sounds amazing! Thanks for such an excellent review.

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  4. You have my attention. I always love a well done thriller/mystery and I appreciate dark humor. Plus I am curious about the main character having Asperger's syndrome. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for commenting Heidi. This is very well done and the dark humour had my laughing despite the situations.

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  5. I really like the sund of that intriguing 'coma' viewpoint - thanks for the great review, Lindsay!

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    1. Thanks for commenting Wendy. Yes, that was a clever aspect of the storytelling in my view. Quite frightening too because of the inability of the person in the coma to communicate their fears!

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  6. Hi Lindsay
    Have you read Belinda Bauer's debut, Blacklands? If so, how does this one compare? I read the second 'Dartmoor' book, Darkside and have to admit I was a tad disappointed.

    Like Sarah, I've only skimmed your review (always wary of an accidental spoiler) but it certainly sounds interesting.

    Thanks

    Eva

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    1. Hi Eva, thanks for commenting. I have read Blacklands, I read it when it first came out and I did enjoy it I remember. I think this one is even better, and I think this one has more dark humour (if memory serves me rightly).
      I haven't read Darkside yet though I am planning to.

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  7. This sounds great! I get the impression that the protagonist with Asperger's syndrome is sensitively portrayed. I love reading stories told from multiple points of view when it's well done, and also have a soft spot for books with medical/anatomy themes, so it's safe to say I'll be reading this at some point.

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    1. I'd be interested to read your views on this one Marie. The anatomy parts are featured a fair amount at stages in the book. I heard the author saying she went to dissection to see what went on. I don't know if I could take research for a book that far, I haven't got the stomach for it.

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