Tuesday 18 August 2015

The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

4 out of 5 stars 

If you scroll through my blog or my Goodreads news feed, you will notice that July 2015 was a very successful reading month for me. And having spent most of the month ill in bed, I didn’t get out much, which meant that my “to-read” pile, which had previously threatened to kill me if I left it on my bedside table, was looking far more respectable.

When my husband, pitying me for not being able to drive or shop for books, handed me a wrapped book-shaped parcel, I had mixed emotions. I had so much still to read, but oh my word, I love new books. I should have trusted him. It was the Belinda Bauer I was dying to read. This one.

The Facts of Life and Death is Belinda Bauer’s first stand-alone novel (the second one being Rubbernecker, and more recently, The Shut Eye), and like her other novels, it is an intense psychological thriller.

Set in the village of Limeburn in Devon, you feel the danger immediately – from the sea and the weather, which threaten to repossess the village reclaimed once already from the ocean. Ruby Trick is ten years old and she lives here with her mother and father. In an atmosphere already creepy and haunting, we find out there have been a series of murders in which the victims are forced to call home and tell their mothers they are going to die. Ruby is eager to help her Dad and his loser wannabe cowboys help solve the crime.

Bauer is gifted at storytelling, setting crimes in the midst of everyday life, and creating tension between her characters that is tangible. Add to that the skill of getting inside a child’s mind, and reporting on the unfolding of these disturbing events with a sense of naïveté, and you pretty much have this novel summed up.

I loved Ruby, her family and friends and the other characters. I loved the dangerous setting and the dank, gloomy atmosphere. The series of initial crimes however, didn’t seem to fit easily with the rest of the story – they almost felt contrived.

Maybe not as exceptional as Rubbernecker and The Shut Eye, but a gripping read nevertheless. Belinda Bauer has set the bar at an almost unattainable level for the crime/thriller genre.

ISBN: 9780593072783

You may also like  Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

Here are all my reviews and recommendations.

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