Book Review: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Rubbernecker by Belinda BauerBelinda Bauer’s debut thriller, Blacklands, was a book I very much enjoyed. I somehow missed her next two books, but the fourth, Rubbernecker, is again very good.

If you’re a thriller fan, don’t miss this one!

Rubbernecker: What it is about

Patrick is a young man with Asperger’s syndrome. His relationship with his mother has never been good, she rejected him from the moment she found out he was different. Ever since his father died he has been obsessed with death and dead animals. He joins a dissection course, in which human bodies are taken apart bit by bit by medical students to learn about anatomy. He discovers something odd about the body he and his group of students are dissecting.

In a second storyline, a man wakes from a coma and watches another patient being killed. He cannot communicate well enough to tell anyone and he is worried he might be next. We also learn about his nurse, who is after the husband of another coma patient.

Patrick finds it hard to understand his class mates because of his inability to interpret non-verbal clues. But while he is working on the dead patient, he becomes better at decoding the behaviour of others and learns a lot about himself in the process.

Someone does not want him to discover the cause of death of the person he’s dissecting and things become very scary for Patrick.

Rubbernecker: What I thought

This was a very good read. I loved the story from the very beginning. For a long time, this was not a thriller but the story of a young man with Asperger’s and he was a fascinating person: His obsession with death, the way he fails to successfully communicate with other people, the rejection from his mother. And then there was the coma ward where a man who cannot talk or move observes what is happening around him.

Patrick seems a bit young for his age. To me, he seemed about 15 years of age. In reality, he was about 20 years old. Whether his affliction made him act younger, I don’t know, but it was something I found a bit odd. Other than that, he seemed a believable character – his Asperger’s wasn’t milked indefinitely but was mentioned only at times where it was relevant (mainly when dealing with other people).

There are some situations that are rather unlikely to happen, but because it’s Patrick who is involved, who, with his Asperger’s thinks differently from other people, it is more or less believable. Patrick just goes for what he wants, and what other people think of it is of no concern of him. He’s not squeamish either so he gets himself in situations where the average person would be completely repulsed.

Which brings me to the point that some of the dissection talk is not so suitable when you’re having dinner (I speak from experience). The story is a little gruesome but nothing to make you dream badly for nights on end.

I loved this story and I think that anyone who likes a good thriller will enjoy this book.

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 320 (hardback)

First published: 2013

I got this book: from Transworld Publishers via Netgalley (ebook). Special thanks to Lynsey!

Genre: thriller


Have you read this book?

What did you think?

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at and We edit books and articles for independent writers.

11 Responses to Book Review: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

  1. Charlie says:

    The condition likely would have some effect on the age he appears to be, it all depends on severity etc. And it wouldn’t be obvious all of the time. It sounds a really good book, though even though we dissected frogs at school I’m not sure reading about dissection would be nice…

    • Leeswammes says:

      Charlie, I think it’s a fantastic book if you enjoy reading thrillers (which I do). The dissection bits are a little bit iffy, but they explain well how Patrick looks at things like that (very business like, no yuck-emotions).

  2. I have some books of Bauer on my e-reader, but haven’t read anything by her yet. This will have to change now, after reading your review, Judith.

  3. Sounds pretty creepy! But in an enjoyable way to read.

  4. I’m tempted to pick this for book group later in the year. We never read any crime and I ahve been half-challenged to come up with something crimey that is also worthy of discussion.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Ellie, this would be a good thriller to discuss at book group. Normally, thrillers are too straight forward and there isn’t much to discuss, but this one, I’d say, Yes!

  5. Marie says:

    This sounds so great, Judith – it sounds like the Asperger’s aspect is dealt with well. I am very intrigued, it’s definitely on my wishlist.

  6. Karelia Stetz-Waters says:

    This sounds fascinating. I’ll have to check this out.

  7. Pingback: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer | JoV's Book Pyramid

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