Book Review – The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

This is the fourth book I’m reviewing by Belinda Bauer. I rather like her style of writing actually, this one being no exception. The images of death, though it sounds morbid, is described so fascinatingly by the perpetrator of death here it almost sounds like a natural process, a perfectly normal state of things. I particularly found the parts where a murder happens so near yet invisible from the public eye so believable, the desperation and heart-dropping moment of the victims when they finally realize escape is impossible and death is indefinitely imminent impossible to peel my eyes away from, as though I sense their sickening situation.

Eve Singer, a TV news reporter specializing in murder/death, is an ambulance-chaser (or should I say coffin?) reporting for iWitness News. Pressured by her boss to provide more gory photos and reports of murder to boost ratings and viewership, she doesn’t always manage to do so because of her competition (from another news station). Also, she has been taking care of her aged father who suffers from dementia (or some sort of medical condition where he doesn’t always remember who is is, I forgot), as well as having an on-off thing with her cameraman.

Recently, she has been getting notes from the killer whose murders she has been following- clues if you will, as to where and when the next murder will happen. The twists and turns in the story, so very classic of a great psychological novel, are not amiss here. I promise it will lead you on a heart-beating, page turning experience. One style which is recurrent in her writing, is that the killer is somebody unexpected, somebody who is recurrent in the novel, somebody close to her. In this novel…… I’m sorry, in the spirit of no spoilers, I’ll leave it to you to find out!

 

Rating: 4.25/5 (Great twists and turns, very matter-of-fact descriptions of murder, offers an insight into the psychotic mind. Would have a higher rating if not for the slight letdown I felt at the end. I felt the end (killer’s identity) didn’t blend as well as it could have. Could have been a bit more shocking. Not one of her novels which I enjoyed the most, but still a pretty worthwhile read)

 

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Book Review – The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

Don’t let the title of this book deceive you – it’s not a documentary, or even some tongue-in-cheek version of how to live a fulfilling life, etc. It’s a pretty dark novel of a killer on the loose, preying on mainly young women. With Belinda Bauer of course, there’s always a twist. This is probably the third book written by her that I’ve written a review on. What I like about her stories – always so consistently thought-provoking. Always so consistently full of twists and turns. Consistency is her middle name.

No spoiler review. 10 year old Ruby Trick lives in a typically moorish setting (think Bronte’s Wuthering Heights) in Devon, in a house overlooking the raging seas, waves rising and falling restlessly, relentlessly crashing into the cliffs which their house hangs precariously on, threatening to drown the sleepy village in its foamy, briny wake. That is the same setting that appears throughout most of the book – dark, stormy, rainy. Perfect setting for a murderous psychotic killer.

What’s different about this killer is that the killer not only just kills young women (I’ve said it as if there’s something mundane about ‘just killing’) , but makes them call their mothers before killing them. Their mothers hear their daughters sobbing, pleading before their lives are taken. If you can think of anything more psychotic than that, I’ll be surprised. I guess that is what makes the story so shocking, so unnerving, but yet so riveting.

The relationship between Ruby’s father and mother is also expanded on quite well, and also each victim’s background, and how some of them tie together nicely at the end. Turns out that the title of the book does appear in the novel three-quarters towards the end, and oddly has nothing to do with the killings, but rather with the growing up process of Ruby Trick. Sounds odd I know, I think so too.

A great book written by Belinda. Though I kinda guessed the plot about one-third the way into the novel. Don’t let that put you off thought, I think I have just read so many of her books that I kinda get her style.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Book Review – Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Buoyed by the magnificent twists and turns and stark plot unveiling of the previous book  I read by this author (The Shut Eye), I held high expectations.

When I first read the synopsis  at the back of the book, I was puzzled and yet a little intrigued at how the main character’s mental condition could have contributed meaningfully to the unfolding of the plot. Young Patrick Fort, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a little like a mild form Autism – able to perform most tasks but have difficulty interacting socially, e.g., unable to pick up on social cues, loaded sentences, contextual meanings, etc), attends a medical school that specializes in dissecting dead bodies. In the course of this studies (let’s just say he has other interests too), he finds a secret about the death of the dead body (aka ‘cadaver’ in this book) under his charge.

The revealing of the secret of the cadaver hit me in the face and sent tingles down my spine, which is EXACTLY what enjoy about Bauer’s writings. Typically of her, the twists don’t just end there. The final twist come at the end, when Patrick discovers a truth about himself. The double punch left me light headed and my thoughts swimming whirlpooling around in my head.

The POV from Patrick Fort is indeed very refreshing. You actually get a glimpse inside his mind (remember he suffers from Asperger’s), and you see obvious cues being handed to him but yet he handled them differently from how a regular person would.

Great read. Refreshing POV from a mind of someone suffering a mental illness. Wonderful twists. Not much to fault here.

5/5

Book Review – The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

I admit I wasn’t thoroughly impressed by the book’s synopsis on the back cover. In fact, I wasn’t even that excited when I started until about a quarter into the book. There were several parts will make you go, hmmm, okay, uh-huh, hmmm.. then – the first shocker came freight-train style slamming into me at one very specific point, and it was beautiful. It was just that casually announced, as if it were a by-thought, unimportant and irrelevant.

I’ll try to recreate what I mean by asking you to imagine the following imaginary passage I made up (no spoilers): “Oh, Jack woke and went about his day as usual, after kissing his wife and children goodbye he went to work as he does always, listened to his lovely neighbor Mrs Cook talk excitedly about his grandson who was coming to visit the next weekend. After suffering the usual rush hour traffic for an hour, he picked up his favorite soy latte from Starbucks and went home. He then retired to bed beside his wife, closing the wooden coffin’s cover on top of him to shield him from the sunlight.”

My attempt in the passage above, of course, does no justice to Bauer’s skills at spinning an amazing tale. She leaves you wondering for a bit, casually tossing bits of information your way, before whacking a real slammer into you. And then more slammers. And then some more after that. That was really when it got exciting, you aren’t really sure which direction the story is headed, until suddenly WHAM and you go “What?”, and then flip back to an earlier chapter to re-read certain parts you simply read past without giving it so much as a passing thought. Have you ever encountered anything like that?

The story starts off with James and Anna’s kid Daniel, who was missing after his dad accidentally left the main door open. This story is intertwined with toddler Edie Evans, who was also missing, and a missing dog. Without giving away any spoilers, let me just say that I really enjoyed the psychological exploration in this novel as we look into Anna’s mind and actions, as well as Detective Marvel who was the investigating officer for this case. Many a times, as Bauer makes that casual announcement, I truly felt chills shooting down my spine as well as chills radiating throughout my whole self. I really do enjoy these moments so.

My only complaint is that the ending leaves.. something unresolved. It was simply casually written off as a one-liner (or two). Would be better if that could be expanded. Still a great book nevertheless – I look forward to reading another one, and sharing it with you.

Rating: 8.5/10 (psychological, mystery, great build-up to spine-chilling moments, easy reading, ending slightly unsatisfying)