by Belinda Bauer
4.0 42

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Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

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 . . .

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439157596
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/05/2010
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 152,055
File size: 2 MB

About 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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Blacklands 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Browncoat_pilot More than 1 year ago
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. 
TheReadingRaven More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick, dark keeps your attention, and is to the point. Worth the read especially if you are looking for a fast entertaing read.
AllPurposeMonkey More than 1 year ago
"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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this. It was a very quick read. It was full of suspense and drama. I also loved the author's ability to go from child POV to killer POV seamlessly. She also has really hit the nail on the head about how tragedy can effect people for generations to come. There were points in the book where my heart just broke for Steven. Anyway, this was my first read from this author, and I well DEFINITELY be looking for more from her. Thanx Ms. Bauer for a wonderful read!! -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, read it in a day. I was genuinely sent through an emotional roller coaster of disgust (at the antagonist) and empathy (for the protagonist). Great emotional writing. The only criticism I have is that it became pretty predictable toward the end. What I think would have made it stand out more is more focus on the kid's actual digging for his uncle's body. He supposedly digs around for years, but we only get a glimpse of the experience. Those moments are the most intriguing, and offer up a great opportunity to expand the classic thriller beyond a cat-and-mouse-game theme. Still a good read, though.
avid_reader51 More than 1 year ago
This book is horrifying and heartwarming. Awesome writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. Well written and believable crime fiction.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BLACKLANDS is pretty lame
COOKIE-CRC More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! This book was a great suspenseful read! It had a great plot and characters! I couldn't put this down until I was finished! The ending was excellent! The last page was heart warming! I adored Stevens character and just wanted to hug him! Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good. For serious readers who like a good story rather than sex, violence and car chases.
Rowdy47 More than 1 year ago
Basically an emotionally abused boy is trying to put his family back together after a tradegy. It's a simple tale, slow moving, tedious, and hard to stay with. However, the ending is satisfying. If you have anything else to read..........mmmm.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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