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Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

Blacklands (2010)

by Belinda Bauer

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Series: Lamb/Holly (1)

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5745617,265 (3.62)1 / 121
  1. 00
    The Last Child by John Hart (terran)
    terran: A young boy searches for the body of a relative and is involved in finding the killer.

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English (49)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
A debut book from this author, Blacklands was a great read.
12 year old Stephen, lives with him mother, nan and brother. They are a family with very little. 18 years before, Stephen's uncle was murdered by a pedophile and his body was never found. Stephens grandmother sits by the window everyday waiting for her son to come home.
Stephen wants to be loved by his family, wants to go into the room that belonged to his uncle Billy but cant. He decides to write to the murderer in prison to find the location of his uncles body so that he can dig the body up and be a hero and his grandmother wont sit at the window waiting everyday.
From here on the story develops well. I enjoyed all of the characters in this book, young Stephen, his innocent little brother Davey, his mum who is a little miserable and nan who loves him in her own way. His friend Lewis and their relationship is an interesting one but I like it, bossy Lewis vs nice compliant Stephen.
The book goes along at a quite pace, easy to read and does grip you. The ending is pretty good too ( )
  Nataliec7 | Jun 30, 2015 |
I very dark book about a 12 year old who gets into the mind of a serial child rapist and killer in hopes of finding the body of his Uncle, who disappeared 18 years ago. The author does a fantastic job of expanding vividly the twisted thoughts of the killer. This is a very good chillingly told story. ( )
  zmagic69 | Apr 24, 2015 |
Read this all in one go. Suspenseful crime fiction combined with insightful and though-provoking rendering of the characters, especially of the young protagonist and those around him. ( )
  NatalieSW | Mar 21, 2015 |
"Blacklands" is the first novel by Belinda Bauer and is both a tale of a broken, dysfunctional family and a journey into the mind of a child-murdering serial killer. The story revolves around Steven Lamb, a 12 year old lad from a poor background, whose uncle Billy was a victim of the child killer Arnold Avery. Although Billy disappeared before Steven was born the shadow of his uncle's death has cast a pall over the family – his Nan is bitterly obsessive, standing at the window, day-in, day-out in expectation of Billy's return, while his mother shows only the most basic interest in Steven. Steven begins to develop the idea that he can "mend" his family if he can discover the fate of Billy and he begins digging on nearby Exmoor in the hope of discovering his uncle's bones. When his search proves fruitless he decides to write to Avery in jail in the hope of eliciting some information to assist him in his quest. The depraved Avery sees in the letter a way to wallow in his fantasies and begins a subtly dangerous and ultimately deadly communication with Steven. "Blacklands" is a good read that provides a nice mix of crime, thriller and coming of age drama, some elements of which work better than others. The best element is Steven and his home life, both of which are drawn with subtlety and sensitivity. Steven is a nicely developed character, unpopular and bullied at school, unnoticed by his teachers (possibly due to his smelling of mildew) and ignored if not disliked by his family, but with an active and thoughtful inner life. His motivations for digging on the moor and writing to a notorious killer, in order to break out of his circumstances are cleverly constructed and nicely developed. Arnold Avery also makes for a fascinating, if despicably ugly character, and Bauer does well in her presentation of him. If anything she makes Avery an overly fascinating a character, painting him a bit too much in the intellectually brilliant Hannibal Lecter mode. Some of his actions don't quite ring true and some of the odd coincidences (Avery being shot on the moor for example) are a just bit too pat for comfort. Despite all that "Blacklands" is a gripping read that is uncomfortable at times and highly evocative and atmospheric throughout. ( )
1 vote calum-iain | May 5, 2014 |
THE BOY WANTED THE TRUTH. THE KILLER WANTED TO PLAY… Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Every day after school and at weekends, while his classmates swap football stickers, Steven digs to lay to rest the ghost of the uncle he never knew, who disappeared aged 11 and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery.
Only Steven’s Nan is not convinced her son is dead. She still waits for him to come home, standing bitter guard at the front window while her family fragments around her. Steven is determined to heal the widening cracks between them before it’s too late. And if that means presenting his grandmother with the bones of her murdered son, he’ll do it.
So the boy takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored serial killer…
I managed to kill two birds with one stone here. Blacklands will probably end up being my one sole female author read this month, but hey one is a bit more than zero isn’t it and Blacklands was also an award winning book, insofar as Bauer bagged the CWA Gold Dagger in 2010 for this impressive debut.
I think this ticked a lot of boxes for me without actually setting me ablaze. It had an interesting, if slightly unbelievable plot. It had a sympathetic main character who at times I wanted to shout at for his passivity in the face of peer conflict. And who at other times, I wanted to smother with support, love, friendship and comfort in the lack of all the aforementioned being forthcoming from his own family. At times Steven cut a heart-breaking, solitary figure in the face of such indifference from those who should have known better. Bauer made me pause and think about my own relationships and whether I always meet the standards of behaviour, I was so quick to judge others by.
Steven’s adversary in the book, Arnold Avery was well-drawn. Clever, interesting, organised and skilled but conversely cold, callous, manipulative and murderous, Avery was shown by Bauer to be human, with qualities as well as defects. More real and frightening for this, rather than being sketched and portrayed as a cartoonish bogeyman with just a dark side.
I was away over the weekend with my better half and still managed to devour the 350 pages in two days, spent sightseeing abroad. A two hour flight helped, as did an afternoon on the beach, albeit some of it spent dozing, but it was testimony to the quality of the prose and the way the plot unfolded quickly that the end seemed to approach in no time at all.
This was my first taste of the author, but on this showing not my last, although unusually for me there is nothing else of hers on the pile waiting.
4 stars from 5 and a strong contender for my book of the month. Why only 4? Just a slight suspension of belief over the premise of a 12 year old being able to communicate with a convicted paedophile. No stunning, amazing 5 star reads for me just yet in July, though there’s still a week to go!
I obtained my copy by swapping another book, on the money saving Readitswapit website a couple of months ago.
( )
1 vote col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
De beste misdaadroman van het jaar? Volgens de Britse Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) is dat 'Rusteloos land' van Belinda Bauer.
Dat de jury van de CWA een debuut bekroont is uitzonderlijk. Vooral als je weet dat George Pelecanos en S.J. Bolton, beiden sterke namen toch, ook op de shortlist stonden. Maar laat het meteen gezegd zijn: Belinda Bauer schreef met ‘Blacklands’ – in het Nederlands vertaald als ‘Rusteloos land’ - een schitterend debuut. Met de woorden van de jury: ‘beklijvende psychologische spanning die je in één ruk uitleest.’ Centraal in de roman staat Steven, een jongen van twaalf van wie twintig jaar geleden de kind-oom Billy verdween. Wellicht werd hij vermoord door een pedofiel. Stevens grootmoeder, de moeder van Billy, heeft het verlies nooit verwerkt, vit constant op haar dochter die haar frustraties dan weer afreageert op haar zoon Steven. Die wil koste wat het kost het lijk van Billy vinden en tracht ten einde raad in contact te komen met de vermoedelijke moordenaar. Het is er Steven vooral om te doen nog iets te maken van zijn leven als tiener en zijn moeder en grootmoeder met de verdwijning te verzoenen. ‘Rusteloos land’ is zowel het pakkende verhaal van een arme, disfunctionele familie als een fijngevoelige bildungsroman.
added by PGCM | editKnack (België), Fred Braekman (Jan 25, 2011)
This astonishingly assured debut, from journalist and screenwriter Belinda Bauer, for once lives up to the hype. Set on Exmoor, it's the story of a cat-and-mouse game between 12-year-old Steven and Arnold Avery, the serial violator and killer of children who, 18 years before, murdered Steven's 11-year-old Uncle Billy and never revealed where he buried the body.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Laura Wilson (Jan 16, 2009)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Belinda Bauerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sjöblom, Sirkka-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother, who gave us everything and never thought it was enough.
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Exmoor dripped with dirty bracken, rough, colourless 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.
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Book description
The boy wanted the truth... The killer wanted to play.

Eighteen years ago, Billy Peters disappeared without a trace. Everyone in town believes he was murdered — after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted to killing six children and burying them on the desolate moor surrounding their small English village. Only Billy's mother is convinced her son is still alive, and she relentlessly awaits his return.

Steven, her twelve-year-old grandson, is determined to bring his family closure and spends his spare time digging holes all over the moor in the hope of turning up Billy's body. When Steven secretly sends a letter to Avery in jail, asking for help in finding the body of his uncle, he unknowingly triggers a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

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Eighteen years ago, Billy Peters disappeared, and everyone in town believed he was murdered by serial killer Arnold Avery who admitted to killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounded Billy's village. But Billy's mother is convinced he's still alive, and her twelve-year-old grandson, Steven is determined to heal the cracks that gape between his nan, his mother, his brother and himself by bringing the family closure even if it means personally finding his uncle's corpse himself.… (more)

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Average: (3.62)
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