Blacklands – Belinda Bauer

Despite my annoyance last week I decided I would give the second read a whirl as I already owned a copy and see what it was all about, in part to be fair to the show that aired again last night plus I would see how my hours reading it were rewarded. I also thought that in the possible instance that it wasn’t really discussed very much last night then people could pop a long here and have a good old natter about it. So onto the book…

Blacklands is a rather dark tale of two halves, one part of it is the tale of an unhappy and dysfunctional family, and the other is the dark tale of the mind of a serial killer. The thing, or person, that links the two is a twelve year old boy called Steven Lamb. Steven is one of those boys who isn’t very popular at school in fact even his teachers try not to notice him and even try to avoid him and his ‘smell of mildew’, so much so they ignore his being bullied. His home life is also not the best, living on the breadline, Steven with his Mum, Nan and little brother Davey.

It’s not the happiest of households either, his mum has a favourite son which isn’t Steven and his Nan has been bitter and angry ever since the disappearance of Steven’s Uncle Billy. The disappearance seems to linger over the household mainly because its never fully been solved and cannot rest. Aged eleven Billy vanished between the newsagent and his house believed to be the victim of serial killer Arnold Avery. Steven decides and in some way becomes slightly obsessed that finding Billy’s body will make everything better and if he does it his family will love him more. After fruitless digging on Exmoor he decides that he will write to his Uncle’s killer, what he doesn’t realise is that this provides Arnold Avery with the perfect game.

Steven is a brilliant character and I really enjoyed reading him and following his journey. Occasionally I thought he spoke and acted a lot older than twelve, having said that with his home life the way it was and all the bullying I could understand why he might have aged quicker. I thought the premise was an interesting and yet incredibly disturbing one. I found getting into the mind of Avery and his paedophilic ways made for difficult reading, I am of a mind though reading shouldn’t always be comfortable just like it shouldn’t always be happy. That’s another conversation though.

If I was judging a book by its cover I would possibly, and I don’t mean to sound a snob, not have picked Blacklands up as it looked like a bit of a bad crime throwaway summer read and it’s not at all. I can’t say I enjoyed the book because I don’t think you can enjoy a book with a serial killing paedophile, I was enthralled though, gripped too and turned the pages till suddenly it was finished and a few hours had whizzed by. It’s not got the best prose that I have ever seen yet it does get into the minds of an unfortunate twelve year old as well as the darkest recesses of a serial killers mind. I would recommend people give this a go.

I have to add that I had no idea that I would be taking part in the Not The TV Book Group (which now has its own page) before when I started reading Blacklands, not that it really makes any difference as I still watched The TV Book Club last night. I don’t think the book was talked about enough again and it should be the star of the show truth be told, and the whole thing with the pencils was pointless, it didn’t relate to books, but it was a bit better, maybe the improvements will start next week what do you think? Have you read Blacklands?


Filed under Belinda Bauer, Review, Transworld Publishing

17 responses to “Blacklands – Belinda Bauer

  1. What is going on with this show? Aren’t there any book lovers on the staff that ensures adequate discussion? I tend to read dark stuff like this, and while they aren’t happy reads, I find them intriguing. This poor kid! Like you, I might have judged the book by its cover and thought it was a trashy crime novel. Great review!

    • Well the latest was prerecorded, am hoping Sundays is better, though am unlikely to watch it as havent gotten the book and also it conflicts with Dancing On Ice hahaha, may do catch up on 4od the next day!

      The book is darkly magnificent, not one of the best ever reads but certainly a very good one.

  2. Dot

    Thanks for the review Simon, I ordered this last week, sounds like it’s going to be an interesting read.

  3. Interesting review. I hadn’t heard of this one before.

    • Thanks Claire, its just had some big promotion here so hopefully a few more people will start to notice it too. I think the subject might put people off, I hope they try and persevere with it though.

  4. i enjoyed this book a lot, and it was a quick read. Steven was awesome, and I liked the writing style as well. Thanks for the great review Simon.

    • It is indeed a quick read, this weekend was a little bit manic and this was the perfect read to have whilst everything else was going on, you instantly can resubmerge into it and be completely gripped in a page or two.

  5. novelinsights

    Hmm sounds like a good thriller, but I still haven’t got through my Tess’s yet!!!

    • I think what I liked about this one was the fact that it was so different from other books in the genre that I hasve read. Though of course really nothing beats the Gerrisen, this isnt one of those procedural thrillers, it made me think in some ways of the Kate Atkinson or Susan Hill crime thrillers etc there are no detectives in this one apart from a 12 year old looking to save his family.

  6. Belinda Bauer

    Hi, Thanks so much to those of you who have taken the time to read and review Blacklands or to make comments here. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m really thrilled to see that readers who have given it the benefit of the doubt have generally enjoyed the experience.

    • Wow thank you so much for popping by and commenting Belinda. I always find it a little scary when the author pops by in case I said something that offends… hopefully this one did the book justice. I am urging people to definately give this a go.

  7. Juanita

    I think I’m going to give this one a go. Great review.

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