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Blacklands
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A chilling psychological debut, Blacklands introduces an extraordinary new author reminiscent of the best of Minette Walters and Barbara Vine.

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. Belinda lives in Wales and is currently working on her second novel.

Reviews

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.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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 Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Extraordinarily powerful and provocative... will leave you breathless" * Daily Mirror *
"An excellent first novel, with a highly original plot" * The Times *
"A very special debut thriller, and a clear-eyed depiction of ordinary people under extraordinary stress. This is something quite new" -- ANN CLEEVES, bestselling author of the Vera and Shetland novels
"A psychological tour-de-force about the cruelty of hope and, ultimately, the triumph of innocence" * Guardian *
"The reader is fully gripped... Bauer's first novel shows an extraordinary power of imagination and, vital in crime fiction, the ability to create fear and empathy in the reader" * Independent *

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