Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Published by Bantam Press

UnknownThe dead can’t speak to us,’ Professor Madoc had said.

That was a lie.

Because the body Patrick Fort is examining in anatomy class is trying to tell him all kinds of things.

Life is already strange enough for the obsessive Patrick without having to solve a possible murder. Especially when no one believes a crime has even taken place. Now he must stay out of danger long enough to unravel the mystery – while he dissects his own evidence.

But as Patrick learns one truth from a dead man, he discovers there have been many other lies rather closer to home…

I found this a brave change of style from Belinda Bauer, although in many ways it’s a return of sorts to the jigsaw-like plotting of her breakthrough novel, Blacklands, with a crime story told in this case with several almost episodic tales that weave through and against each other to a satisfying conclusion.

The central character of Patrick, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome is interesting, likeable and, at times, very humorous as he takes much of what he is told exactly on face value whilst, all the while, carrying out his investigation of what, if it is murder, is likely to be the least violent murder to have occurred in crime fiction in some time.

In many ways that’s what I found refreshing about Rubbernecker – it’s a prime example that, to create a great crime fiction novel, there doesn’t have to be a reliance on bloodshed and violence.

With each successive novel, Bauer manages to create fiction that is very easily, and enjoyably, read and absorbed page after finely crafted page. But it does leave the reader with a problem – just how do you remove the dark images and themes therein from your mind afterwards….?

It’s a great problem to have – and a great read.

Keith

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