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Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
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Blacklands (2010)

by Belinda Bauer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lamb/Holly (1)

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5435318,474 (3.6)1 / 115
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    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 (46)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
"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. ( )
  calum-iain | May 5, 2014 |
Synopsis/blurb....
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.
( )
  col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
Sergio Becerra 10a, 03/03/2014, Black Lands, Belinda Bauer 2011-283 pages

Steven is twelve years old and spends his free time digging in the woods, hoping to find the body of his uncle Billy, who died eighteen years before, the victim of a famous serial murderer called Arnold Avery. Steven wants to end the suffering of his family. The next step will be to try to contact the murderer, which will take him to send a letter to the prison asking for Arnold despite he is paying a life chain sentence. And because of that begins a dangerous game between Steven and Arnold.

This book is really hard to read at the begining because it starts out of nowhere and then the rising action starts, from there you can understand the book.
Black Lands is a really good book but demands a LOT! of attention to understand the events it also is written with words that just a native english speaker would understand, here are some of them:

-Swathe (Verb), to wrap, bind, or swaddle with bands of some material; wrap up closely or fully. "then I swathe the guy"
-Bumped (Verb), to come more or less violently in contact. "he bumped the car against the tree"
-Moor (Noun), to come more or less violently in contact "the moor was all over the place"
-Meandered (Verb), to proceed by or take a winding or indirect course "the stream meandered trhough the valley"
-Slick (Adjective), smooth and glossy "the land was a little slick"

WEBGRAPHY:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6596845-blacklands
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blacklands-belinda-bauer/1100260748?ean=97814391... ( )
  SergioBecerra | Feb 14, 2014 |
This is a dark and disturbing story that I always put off reading due to its subject matter.
However, I am so pleased I got round to finally reading it; once I'd begin it I couldn't put it down.
It a lovely story about a financially poor family making the best of things, life is tough but the Nan seems never to have got over the loss of her child; taken and murdered by a child serial killer but whose burial sight has never been revealed indeed the murderer has always denied killing the boy. The consequence of this is they can never move on with their lives and Steven seems to have lost out the most.
He spends his spare time digging the moors by his home looking for the grave of Uncle Billy to bring his Nan some peace.
The story takes a sinister turn when he begins to write to the paedophile in prison to ask him to reveal where he buried Billy.
The perspective of a 12 year old boy is beautifully captured and a delight to read; his innocence slowly being compromised is well drawn. The growing threat the killer, even from within his prison cell poses is spine chilling and you want to cry out to save him.
There are some grime crime stories around the taking of life involving children few dwell on the motivations of the pervert like this does or has such suspense prior to the next victim.
The book never deliberately shocks or deviates from telling the real story at the heart of this crime thriller. The subject matter is not glorified or elevated beyond the fictional account this is recounting but it is troubling nevertheless.
The wonderful writing ultimately carries the story and it is a book I am so pleased to have finally read. Furthermore I am pleased to know there are other books by this excellent author to read and enjoy. ( )
  Ricoh4 | Nov 3, 2013 |
Synopsis/blurb....
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. ( )
  col2910 | Aug 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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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