Book Review: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

Blacklands by Belinda BauerMy on-line book club, boekgrrls, were reading Blacklands as their January book of the month. Since I didn’t own the book and I was working very hard on reducing my TBR, I didn’t join in.

I was very tempted, though, as I read some good reports on the book and I put it on my wishlist.

This month and the next, Transworld are running the Great Transworld Crime Caper in which book bloggers choose three books from a list of crime books, which they are then sent for review. I was very pleased to see Blacklands on the list, and of course it was my first choice!

Blacklands: What it is about

Steven Lamb is an twelve-year old boy with an unusual hobby. On the moors near his house in Exmoor in England he digs for bodies. Actually, just one body: that of his uncle Bill, who was killed by a serial killer when he was about eleven years old. The killer is in prison but the body was never found.

Steven hopes that when he finds the body, his grandmother and his mother, with whom he lives, will finally notice him, embrace him as a hero and show their love for him.

He has been digging in his free time for years, but realises the best way to find where the body is, is to write to the killer and ask him. So he does. This starts off a series of events that put Steven in a very dangerous position.

Blacklands: What I thought

I very much enjoyed this well-written book. I was immediately drawn into the story and found it hard to put down.

This book was not a conventional thriller as only towards the very end of the book, there were developments that put people at danger. The rest of the book worked towards this, but in a more gentle fashion.

I believed in Steven as an underdog, at school and at home. The only thing he was good at, was writing letters. So, although he was being bullied by “the hoodies” and bossed around by his best friend Lewis, he wasn’t worried about contacting a serial killer, because he was good at writing letters.

I really liked that reasoning. I wondered if Steven was a little too clever for his age understanding the cryptic messages that Arnold Avery, the killer, sent him, but it was still within the possible.

The book alternated between the story of Steven and that of Avery. We didn’t get many graphic details of Avery’s crimes, which I was grateful for.

A great read.

Extra: See my review of Rubbernecker.

Great Transworld Crime Caper event


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

15 Responses to Book Review: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Book Review: Blacklands by Belinda Bauer « Leeswammes' Blog --

  2. Glad you enjoyed this book. I liked this book a lot as well. I just learned that the author has a new book coming out in May of 2011 —

    Dark Side – In bleak midwinter, the people of Shipcott are shocked by the murder of an elderly woman in her bed. As snow cuts off the village, local policeman Jonas Holly is torn between catching a brutal killer and protecting his vulnerable wife, Lucy.

    When the inquiry is commandeered by an abrasive senior detective, Jonas finds himself derided by his colleagues and ashamed to admit to Lucy that he’s been sidelined. It seems his first murder investigation may be over before it’s begun. But when he receives a series of increasingly sinister anonymous notes, Jonas is thrust back into the center of the case. Someone in the village is taunting him, blaming him for the tragedy. Someone thinks he’s not doing his job; someone seems to know every move he makes. And soon Jonas has to ask: Who’s hunting who?

  3. Julie says:

    What a unique premise for a story! I am going to add this one to my TBR list. Thanks for sharing, Judith…..

  4. Nadine Nys says:

    Another book to add to my TBR-list… Thanks for the review.

  5. I read this and thought it was OK. It was a bit too unbelievable for me and so it didn’t feel right. Those puzzles were a bit bizarre too – would a serial killer really do that sort of thing? I can see why you like this, but it didn’t work for me 😦

  6. Helen says:

    I read this last year and enjoyed it, though it was quite disturbing to get so close to the mind of a child killer. And I felt so sorry for poor Steven! He had such a sad, lonely life.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Yes, poor Steven, Helen. I agree. I did think it was done very well, because Steven just hinted at what was different in his life. It took me a while to realize how poor the family really was.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for the link. I remember sending the link to some of my boekgrrls friends that were reading the book at the time, but I forgot about it again. 🙂

  7. Ellie says:

    I really enjoyed this book when I read it a couple of months ago. I thought Bauer did a fantastic job of taking the reader inside the twisted mind of a paedophile and serial killer – it was horrendously believable – and when the pace picked up towards the end I couldn’t put it down! I’ll be looking forward to her second novel…

  8. chasing bawa says:

    I got this book for a friend for Christmas as she loves thrillers and she says it’s a riveting read. And she’s going to lend it to me afterwards (see what I did there? That why I like buying books I haven’t read for my friends ;P)

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