Blacklands

( 31 )

Overview

EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone in town believes Billy was murdered—after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounds their small English village. Only Billy’s mother is convinced he is alive. She still stands lonely guard at the front window of her home, waiting for her son to return, while her remaining family fragments around her.

But her twelve-year-old grandson ...

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Overview

EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone in town believes Billy was murdered—after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounds their small English village. Only Billy’s mother is convinced he is alive. She still stands lonely guard at the front window of her home, waiting for her son to return, while her remaining family fragments around her.

But her twelve-year-old grandson Steven is determined to heal the cracks that gape between his nan, his mother, his brother, and himself. Steven desperately wants to bring his family closure, and if that means personally finding his uncle’s corpse, he’ll do it.

Spending his spare time digging holes all over the moor in the hope of turning up a body is a long shot, but at least it gives his life purpose.

Then at school, when the lesson turns to letter writing, Steven has a flash of inspiration . . . Careful to hide his identity, he secretly pens a letter to Avery in jail asking for help in finding the body of "W.P."—William "Billy" Peters.

So begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

Just as Steven tries to use Avery to pinpoint the gravesite, so Avery misdirects and teases his mysterious correspondent in order to relive his heinous crimes. And when Avery finally realizes that the letters he’s receiving are from a twelve-year-old boy, suddenly his life has purpose too.

Although his is far more dangerous . . .


Blacklands
is a taut and chillingly brilliant debut that signals the arrival of a bright new voice in psychological suspense.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Blacklands is leading the pack of profound new mysteries. . . . Atmospheric . . . . bewitching . . . . a brilliant analysis of an exceedingly twisted mind.”
Chicago Tribune

Bauer’s ability to shift between the perspective of a 12-year-old boy and a middle-age serial killer is brilliant and frightening all at once. . . . [her] debut novel promises to be the first of many good reads.”
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

Publishers Weekly
British author Bauer's solid debut focuses on Steven Lamb, an unhappy 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother, grandmother, and five-year-old brother in Shipcolt, Somerset. Steven's grandmother is still haunted by the disappearance and suspected murder of her 11-year-old son, Billy, 19 years earlier. The authorities assume Billy was killed by pedophile Arnold Avery, who was convicted of six counts of murder and is serving a life sentence in Longmoor prison. Determined to find Billy's remains, Steven has been methodically digging up the moor near his house. Frustrated by his lack of progress, he writes a letter to Avery asking for information, and so begins a cat-and-mouse game that will have dire consequences. Bauer creates believable tension within the Lamb household as her characters shoulder enormous psychological burdens, though a somewhat far-fetched climax dilutes the quiet power of the preceding story. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Twelve-year-old Steven's hardscrabble life in tiny Shipcolt, England, on the edge of Exmoor has a predictable monotony: he spends most of his free time with his best friend, Lewis, dodging the local bullies and trying to garner the favor of his mother, Lettie, and his Nan (grandmother), who seem to disapprove of his every move. The two women exist in a state of emotional limbo, still mourning the death of his Uncle Billy, who was abducted and murdered as an 11 year old by a serial killer serving time in a nearby prison. Steven enters into a bold plan—to find his uncle's killer and thus win the affection of his mother and grandmother. But once he begins a secret correspondence with the killer, Steven starts down a treacherous path that could endanger his own life. VERDICT In her debut, self-described dishwasher-bookmaker-journalist-turned-novelist Bauer offers a compelling, fast-paced, and suspenseful drama that will keep readers engaged from the first page. Fans of Ruth Rendell will likely be drawn to Bauer's work. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]—Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR
Kirkus Reviews
In Bauer's spare, haunting debut, a 12-year-old boy corresponds with a serial killer to learn the location of his uncle's grave. Nineteen years ago, 11-year-old Billy Peters disappeared from his home in a village on the edge of Exmoor, a craggy expanse of heather, gorse and Bronze Age ruins in Southwest England. His nephew Steven can see that Nan (the boy's name for his grandmother) has lived a wan half-life ever since, waiting for news even though Arnold Avery was convicted of multiple child abductions and murders, including her son's. (Police found Billy's Nikes in Arnold's van, but his body was never recovered.) Steven's mother Lettie still lives with Nan, despite the fact that she neglected her daughter for years after losing Billy, her favorite. In turn, single mom Lettie favors younger son Davey over Steven. Since many of Avery's victims were found buried on Exmoor, Steven searches the moor with his friend Lewis for Billy's grave, digging with a cherished spade given to him by his favorite surrogate father, Lettie's on-again-off-again boyfriend Jude. With a child's magical thinking, sensitively portrayed in Bauer's inventive, ironic diction, Steven believes that the gaping hole in his family will be filled by the unearthing of Billy's remains, thereby ending Nan's uncertainty. He writes to Avery, a model prisoner hoping for parole in two years, in an effort to trick him into revealing the gravesite; Avery responds with tantalizing but puzzling hints. When Steven inadvertently sends a photo of himself, revealing that he is of the age particularly favored by this serial killer, Avery's compulsion mandates that he must escape and make Steven his next victim. A dispute between a prisonguard and Avery's only friend, fomented by Avery himself, provides the opportunity. Meanwhile, Steven's ambivalent friendship with the manipulative Lewis will have crucial consequences all its own. Bauer displays remarkable talent in pacing, plotting and, most important of all, getting beneath the skin of even her most repellent characters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439149454
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 1/11/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 604,283
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa. She has worked as a journalist and screenwriter, and her script THE LOCKER ROOM earned her the Carl Foreman/Bafta Award for Young British Screenwriters, an award that was presented to her by Sidney Poitier. She was a runner-up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for “Mysterious Ways,” about a girl stranded on a desert island with 30,000 Bibles. Belinda now lives in Wales.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

EXMOOR DRIPPED WITH DIRTY BRACKEN, ROUGH, COLORLESS grass, prickly gorse, and last year’s heather, so black it looked as if wet fire had swept across the landscape, taking the trees with it and leaving the moor cold and exposed to face the winter unprotected. Drizzle dissolved the close horizons and blurred heaven and earth into a grey cocoon around the only visible landmark—a twelve-year-old boy in slick black waterproof trousers but no hat, alone with a spade.

It had rained for three days, but the roots of grass and heather and gorse twisting through the soil still resisted the spade’s intrusion. Steven’s expression did not change; he dug the blade in again, feeling a satisfying little impact all the way up to his armpits. This time he made a mark—a thin human mark in the great swathe of nature around him.

Before Steven could make the next mark, the first narrow stripe had filled with water and disappeared.

Three boys slouched through the Shipcott rain, their hands deep in their pockets, their hoodies over their faces, their shoulders hunched as if they couldn’t wait to get out of the rain. But they had nowhere to hurry to, so they meandered and bumped along and laughed and swore too loudly at nothing at all, just to let the world know they were there and still had expectations.

The street was narrow and winding and, in summer, passing tourists smiled at the seaside-painted terraces with their doors opening right onto the pavement and their quaint shutters. But the rain made the yellow and pink and sky blue houses a faded reminder of sunshine, and a refuge only for those too young, too old, or too poor to leave.

Steven’s nan looked out of the window with a steady gaze.

She had started life as Gloria Manners. Then she became Ron Peters’s wife. After that, she was Lettie’s mum, then Lettie and Billy’s mum. Then for a long time she was Poor Mrs. Peters. Now she was Steven’s nan. But underneath she would always be Poor Mrs. Peters; nothing could change that, not even her grandsons.

Above the half-nets, the front window was spotted with rain. The people over the road already had their lights on. The roofs were as different as the walls. Some still wore their old pottery tiles, rough with moss. Others, flat grey slate that reflected the watery sky. Above the roofs, the top of the moor was just visible through the mist—a gentle, rounded thing from this distance. From the warmth of a front room with central heating and the kettle starting to whistle in the kitchen, it even looked innocent.

The shortest of the boys struck the window with the flat of his palm and Steven’s nan recoiled in fright.

The boys laughed and ran although no one was chasing them and they knew no one was likely to. “Nosey old bag!” one of them shouted back, although it was hard to see which, with their hoods so low on their faces.

Lettie hurried in, breathless and alarmed. “What was that?”

But Steven’s nan was back in the window. She didn’t look round at her daughter. “Is tea ready?” she said.

Steven walked off the moor with his anorak slung over one shoulder and his T-shirt soaked and steaming with recent effort. The track carved through the heather by generations of walkers was thick with mud. He stopped—his rusty spade slung over his other shoulder like a rifle—and looked down at the village. The streetlamps were already on and Steven felt like an angel or an alien, observing the darkening dwellings from on high, detached from the tiny lives being lived below. He ducked instinctively as he saw the three hoodies run down the wet road.

He hid the spade behind a rock near the slippery stile. It was rusty but, still, someone might take it, and he couldn’t carry it home with him; that might lead to questions he could not—or dared not—answer.

He walked down the narrow passage beside the house. He was cooling now, and shivered as he took off his trainers to run them under the garden tap. They’d been white once, with blue flashes. His mum would go mad if she saw them like this. He rubbed them with his thumbs and squeezed the mud out of them until they were only dirty, then shook them hard. Muddy water sprayed up the side of the house, but rain washed it quickly away. His grey school socks were heavy and sodden; he peeled them off, his feet a shocking cold white.

“You’re soaking.” His mother peered from the back door, her face pinched and her dark blue eyes as dull as a northern sea. Rain spattered the straw hair that was dragged back into a small, functional ponytail. She jerked her head back inside to keep it dry.

“I got caught in it.”

“Where were you?”

“With Lewis.”

This was not strictly a lie. He had been with Lewis immediately after school.

“What were you doing?”

“Nothing. Just. You know.”

From the kitchen he heard his nan say, “He should come straight home from school!”

Steven’s mother glared at his wetness. “Those trainers were only new at Christmas.”

“Sorry, Mum.” He looked crestfallen; it often worked.

She sighed. “Tea’s ready.”

Steven ate as fast as he dared and as much as he could. Lettie stood at the sink and smoked and dropped her ash down the plughole. At the old house—before they came to live with Nan—his mum used to sit at the table with him and Davey. She used to eat. She used to talk to him. Now her mouth was always shut tight, even when it held a cigarette.

Davey sucked the ketchup off his chips then carefully pushed each one to the side of his plate.

Nan cut little pieces off her breaded fish, inspecting each with a suspicious look before eating it.

“Something wrong with it, Mum?” Lettie flicked her ash with undue vigor. Steven looked at her nervously.

“Bones.”

“It’s a fillet. Says so on the box. Plaice fillet.”

“They always miss some. You can’t be too careful.”

There was a long silence in which Steven listened to the sound of his own food inside his head.

“Eat your chips, Davey.”

Davey screwed up his face. “They’re all wet.”

“Should’ve thought of that before you sucked them, shouldn’t you? Shouldn’t you?”

At the repeated question, Steven stopped chewing, but Nan’s fork scraped the plate.

Lettie moved swiftly to Davey’s side and picked up a soggy chip. “Eat it!”

Davey shook his head and his lower lip started to wobble.

With quiet spite, Nan murmured: “Leaving food. Kids nowadays don’t know they’re born.”

Lettie bent down and slapped Davey sharply on the bare thigh below his shorts. Steven watched the white handprint on his brother’s skin quickly turn red. He loved Davey, but seeing someone other than himself get into trouble always gave Steven a small thrill, and now—watching his mother hustling his brother out of the kitchen and up the stairs, bawling his head off—he felt as if he had somehow been accorded an honor: the honor of being spared the pent-up irritation of his mother. God knows, she’d taken her feelings for Nan out on him often enough. But this was further proof of what Steven had been hoping for some time—that Davey was finally old enough, having just turned five, to suffer his share of the discipline pool. It wasn’t a deep pool, or a dangerous one, but what the hell; his mother had a short fuse and a punishment shared was a punishment halved in Steven’s eyes. Maybe even a punishment escaped altogether.

His nan had not stopped eating throughout, although each mouthful was apparently a minefield.

Even though Davey’s sobs were now muffled, Steven sought eye contact with Nan and finally she glanced at him, giving him a chance to roll his eyes, as if the burden of the naughty child was shared and the sharing made them closer.

“You’re no better,” she said, and went back to her fish.

Steven reddened. He knew he was better! If only he could prove it to Nan, everything would be different—he just knew it.

Of course, it was all Billy’s fault—as usual.

Steven held his breath. He could hear his mother washing up—the underwater clunking of china—and his nan drying—the higher musical scraping of plates leaving the rack. Then he slowly opened the door of Billy’s room. It smelled old and sweet, like an orange left under the bed. Steven felt the door click gently behind him.

The curtains were drawn—always drawn. They matched the bedspread in pale and dark blue squares that clashed with the swirly brown carpet. A half-built Lego space station was on the floor and since Steven’s last visit a small spider had spun a web on what looked like a crude docking station. Now it sat there, waiting to capture satellite flies from the outer space of the dingy bedroom.

There was a drooping scarf pinned to the wall over the bed—sky blue and white, Manchester City—and Steven felt the familiar pang of pity and anger at Billy: still a loser even in death.

Steven crept in here sometimes, as if Billy might reach across the years and whisper secrets and solutions into the ear of this nephew who had already lived to see one more birthday than he himself had managed.

Steven had long ago given up the hope of finding real-life clues. At first he liked to imagine that Uncle Billy might have left some evidence of a precognition of his own death. A Famous Five book dogeared at a key page; the initials “AA” scratched into the wooden top of the bedside table; Lego scattered to show the points of the compass and X marks the spot. Something which—after the event—an observant boy might discover and decipher.

But there was nothing. Just this smell of history and bitter sadness, and a school photo of a thin, fair child with pink cheeks and crooked teeth and dark blue eyes almost squeezed shut by the size of his smile. It had been a long time before Steven had realized that this photo must have been placed here later—that no boy worth his salt has a photo of himself on his bedside table unless it shows him holding a fish or a trophy.

Nineteen years ago this eleven-year-old boy—probably much like himself—had tired of his fantasy space game and gone outside to play on a warm summer evening, apparently—infuriatingly—unaware that he would never return to put his toys away or to wave his Man City scarf at the TV on a Sunday afternoon, or even to make his bed, which his mother—Steven’s nan—had done much later.

Sometime after 7:15 P.M., when Mr. Jacoby from the newsagent sold him a bag of Maltesers, Uncle Billy had moved out of the realm of childhood make-believe and into the realm of living nightmare. In the two hundred yards between the newsagent’s and this very house—a two hundred yards Steven walked every morning and every night to and from school—Uncle Billy had simply disappeared.

Steven’s nan had waited until 8:30 before sending Lettie out to look for her brother, and until 9:30, when darkness was falling, to go outside herself. In the light summer evenings children played long past their winter bedtimes. But it was not until Ted Randall next door said perhaps they should call the police that Steven’s nan changed forever from Billy’s mum into Poor Mrs. Peters.

Poor Mrs. Peters—whose husband had been stupidly killed wobbling off his bicycle into the path of the Barnstaple bus six years before—had waited for Billy to come home.

At first she waited at the door. She stood there all day, every day for a month, barely noticing fouteen-year-old Lettie brushing past her to go to school, and returning promptly at 3:50 to save her mother worrying even more—if such a thing were possible.

When the weather broke, Poor Mrs. Peters waited in the window from where she could see up and down the road. She grew the look of a dog in a thunderstorm—alert, wide-eyed, and nervous. Any movement in the street made her heart leap so hard in her chest that she flinched. Then would come the slump, as Mr. Jacoby or Sally Blunkett or the Tithecott twins grew so distinct that no desperate stretch of her imagination could keep them looking like a ruddy-cheeked eleven-year-old boy with a blond crew cut, new Nike trainers, and a half-eaten bag of Maltesers in his hand.

Lettie learned to cook and to clean and to stay in her room so she didn’t have to watch her mother flinching at the road. She had always suspected that Billy was the favorite and now, in his absence, her mother no longer had the strength to hide this fact.

So Lettie worked on a shell of anger and rebellion to protect the soft center of herself which was fourteen and scared and missed her brother and her mother in equal measure, as if both had been snatched from her on that warm July evening.

How could Uncle Billy not know? Once more Steven felt that flicker of anger as he looked about the clueless, lifeless room. How could anyone not know that something like that was about to happen to them?

© 2010 Belinda Bauer

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 16, 2010

    Blacklands

    Steven Lamb is twelve years old and spends
    his days with a rusty old spade digging to find the remains of his Uncle Billy. After a bout of frustration and doubt, he decides to enlist the help of a serial killer convicted of killing several children in the area.
    This incredibly believable novel is extremely engaging. Bauer's character of the child predator is unsettling in the sense that I could not stop thinking how real her portrayal of his thoughts, scheming and his way of life played out.
    It was as if she were in his head typing out his exact thoughts.
    Arnold Avery, the pedophile serial killer is callous and calculating and deeply disturbed. Steven Lamb is a gentle, caring young boy and all his wants is to heal his family. Is he any match for the serial killer that killed his uncle?
    This was an adrenaline pumping read, especially toward the end, it really had me hooked from start to finish- a one sitting read! I definitely plan on reading Belinda Bauer's next novel.
    I highly recommend this novel.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Impressive, Heartbreaking Debut

    "Digging had given his life purpose. It was a small, feeble purpose and was unlikely to end in anything more than a gradual tapering off into nothingness. But purpose was something, wasn't it?" - Blacklands

    Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb of Somerset, England lives his young life with more purpose than most ever experience in an entire lifetime. His father long since out of the picture, his mother stuck in a dead end housekeeping job and his Nan (grandmother) still haunted by the disappearance of her son, Billy, eighteen years earlier, Steven and his five-year-old brother exist in a house perpetually filled with tension and despair.

    Billy, who was the same age at the time he went missing as Steven is now, is presumed to have been killed by pedophile and serial killer Arnold Avery. Convicted of killing six children, though he never admitted to Billy's abduction or murder, Avery is serving a life sentence in a nearby prison.

    That Billy disappeared at such a young age was tragic enough, but Steven is convinced what has cast such a dark cloud over his family is that Billy's body was never found. His Nan in particular seems unable to move on, holding a daily vigil at the window as if still expecting Billy to come home even after eighteen years. Steven believes that if he could just find Billy's body he would be able to heal his family's psychological wounds. After all: "If Nan loved him and Davey, maybe she and Mum would be nicer to each other; and if Nan and Mum were nicer to each other, they would all be happier, and be a normal family, and... well... just everything would be... better."

    Determined to find Billy's body and bring it home to rest so that he can have a normal family, Steven spends all of his free time digging boy-sized holes in the moor where Avery's known victims were found, to no avail. Frustrated by his lack of results, he finally has an epiphany: go straight to the source. And so Steven writes a letter to Avery that sets into motion a life-altering chain of events.

    Though the cryptic exchanges between Steven and Avery are reminiscent of the Clarice Starling / Hannibal Lecter relationship in Thomas Harris' Silence of the Lambs, through her use of a child protagonist Bauer has crafted a fresh twist on the serial killer crime genre. She has, in fact, managed to seamlessly weave together a psychological suspense novel and a traditional coming-of-age story.

    At only 220 pages Blacklands is a quick read, though given the compelling storyline it could have been twice as long and I still don't think I'd have been able to put it down without finishing in one sitting. Absolutely heartbreaking in his earnestness, painfully realistic in the missteps that he makes, and inspiring in the depth of his determination, Steven Lamb is one of the most fully realized characters I've come across in quite some time. That he is merely a child makes what Bauer has accomplished with Blacklands, a debut offering no less, all the more impressive.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Attention keeping

    Quick, dark keeps your attention, and is to the point. Worth the read especially if you are looking for a fast entertaing read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Blacklands explores the impact of a disappearing child on the surviving family members

    Nineteen years ago, eleven years old Billy went to buy cards, but never came home. A year later a man flashed teen Mason Dingle who reported him to the police. Avery is a pedophile serial killer working his horrors in the Exmoor region of England. Caught he takes to police to the graves of his young victims. He never identified his prey but Billy was assumed to be one of them.

    Billy's nephew Steven lives in his Nan's house with his mom and younger brother in Shipcolt near Exmoor. It is a house of pain and anguish as Nan looks out the window hoping her Billy comes home. Billy's room remains the same as a holy shrine while Nan suffers from guilt for not watching over him more carefully. Steven wants desperately the loving approval of his aloof mom and distracted grandma so comes up with a plan to achieve it. He sends a letter to Avery asking him for the location of where Billy is buried hoping the remains will provide closure to the grieving adults. Avery receives a picture of Exmoor and sees a reflection of Steven. The convicted killer plots to escape to get to Steven, who has forgotten all about his correspondence as his home life has taken a happy turn.

    Blacklands explores the impact of a disappearing child on the surviving family members, even those not born at the time of the violent crime that takes away a loved one. The characters are fully developed including Avery. Fans anticipate the clash between an aging pedophile still following his impulses and the tweener who though he seeks the approval of his matriarchs is no victim; just ask the bullies he eludes all the time.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2014

    This is a great book. The author does a great job of writing lik

    This is a great book. The author does a great job of writing like a serial killer and then jumping to a young child. 
    I couldn't put this book down and I highly recommend it. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    Blacklands

    Loved the characters in this novel.The author goes seamlessly from the deranged mind of a serial killer to the naive thoughts of a 12year old boy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    I really wanted to get this book because of all of the high prai

    I really wanted to get this book because of all of the high praise it received.  I would say this was an easy read .  Unfortunately I didn't find it as compelling as others.  I think the author did a great job depicting Steven Lamb's dreary existence.  She shows how devastating it can be to have your family forever changed by tragedy. I felt the story dragged a bit in the middle.  I felt it got a bit redundant with its focus on his daily struggles.  It was not a bad read but it definitely wasn't a thriller either. 

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Engrossing Suspense

    Steven Lamb is a twelve-year old boy much like any other. Except that he is a twelve-year old boy whose family is forever known as the one whose child eighteen years ago was kidnapped by a serial killer. That child was Steven's uncle. He never knew him, but for his entire life his entire family dynamic has revolved around this stark fact. His mother, the child's sister, has drifted from man to man, never trusting anyone. His grandmother still spends hours at the window, waiting for Billy to return. His body was never found, and she still holds out hope.

    Casting around for a way to heal his family, Steven naively starts a secret correspondence with his uncle's purported killer. Arnold Avery has been in prison for years, six child killings to his tally with others like Billy suspected. Arnold knows that he is unlikely to ever leave prison, and his days are mindnumbingly routine. There aren't many visitors to a pedophile killer. When the correspondence starts, he suddenly has purpose again; he wants to get out somehow and find Steven. Steven, who believes he can trick Avery into revealing Billy's gravesite on the nearby moor, has no idea what he has touched off.

    The action accelerates when Avery manages to escape prison during a riot. He heads straight to Steven's village. He knows when he is recaptured he will never leave prison again, and is determined to have one last kill; one that will revisit his power on this family as he takes another child from them.

    Readers are advised to have plenty of lights on to read this book. Arnold Avery is one of the most chilling killers in recent memory, and the views inside his head won't soon be forgotten. Belinda Bauer has created memorable characters who ring true. Both Steven's and Avery's characters' actions are as believable as they seem inevitable. This book is recommended for mystery and suspense readers. They will, as I have, find a new star in suspense writing.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    undecided

    Black Lands is about a family trying to survive after the son/brother/uncle has been killed by a serial killer as a child. As you can tell by my ratings, I liked the character development and her writing (even if it is British and I don't have a clue sometimes what she is talking about). I thought the plot was original and is probably what kept me reading the book. All that said I can't say this is a book I liked. I can't recommend it because several times I almost stopped reading it, but it was the only book with me so I finished it; mostly because it is very short. Any longer and I wouldn't have finished it. Take a pass or get from library.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A debut novel that should garner great attention

    This delicately-sized debut thriller packs a punch well above its weight. Exquisitely observed, the story focuses on a young boy in a depressed British town located on the moors and a serial killer who preys on the same. The language and the sentiments feel real, and one's attachment to the main character grows in direct proportion to our disquiet as the story unfolds. If you like thrillers, I think you will be surprised at the success of the author in ratcheting up the tension in a phrase. This is a first-class debut from a talented author. I eagerly look forward to her next production.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    a rare find...

    I loved this book. The character development was superb, Read it in one day because it was too hard to put down. It was a unique perspective.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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