Friday, April 17, 2015
Review of Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (Corgi, 2010)
The strength of Blacklands is the idea of a young boy from a troubled home exchanging letters with the murderer of his uncle in the hope of discovering the location of the body. It’s a novel take on the crime fiction oeuvre. Bauer nicely sets up the premise, charting Steven’s unsettled home life, the bullying he receives at school, and his quest to resolve the doubt in his grandmother’s mind as to what happened to her son. Then she weaves in the perspective of Arnold Avery, a predatory serial killer of children, and how Steven’s letters re-ignites Avery’s psychopathic fantasies. However, the tale is rather narrow and linear in its telling and having spent so much time setting up the premise and manoeuvring people into place the ending was somewhat underplayed and underwhelming. This was a shame as the story really does have a great hook. Nonetheless, an interesting and innovative read.