Monday, March 28, 2011

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 . . .

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

Hard to believe that this is a debut novel. I found this to be an emotional book. Feeling for the mother who has lost a child with no closure. A daughter who struggles with raising 2 boys on her own and a grandson who wants nothing more than to have a normal family life. To get that he searches literally for years to find the body of his uncle. I found the writing excellent, I could picture the dreariness of the land and hopelessness of the families lives real. There was the odd thing I found out of place, but it didn't distract from the story and the ending was good to boot.

Will be on the lookout for more by this author.

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