Friday, 26 February 2016

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Belinda Bauer has a knack for getting inside the heads of her very original characters, taking this to new heights in the novel, Rubbernecker. The story is told from the viewpoints of two characters: a coma patient who is just starting to ‘wake up’, and struggles to figure out what is going on around him, and Patrick Fort, a young man with Asperger’s who is undertaking a course in anatomy at Cardiff University.

Patrick has had this peculiar fascination with death ever since his father was killed crossing a road, while Patrick was a child. Now Patrick is part of a group who is gradually cutting up a cadaver in the attempt to discover its cause of death. While other groups in the class quickly establish heart failure or cancer, Patrick’s group are at a loss, until a weird discovery leads Patrick to suspect murder. No one will listen to Patrick of course, and soon the body must be handed back to the family for burial. Patrick has no choice but to take the law into his own hands.

I loved the portrayal of Patrick, who is energetic and doesn’t care what others think of him. There are some hilarious scenes at his student digs and there is a nod to Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time) in his dialogue. You need this light relief to help cope with the cadaver scenes and the tension Bauer wreaks from the coma ward, where our patient is also struggling to be heard.

Rubbernecker makes a departure from Bauer’s novels set on Exmoor and as a stand-alone novel it is utterly brilliant - an intelligent crime novel, which also has plenty of page-turning action. The novel won the Theakston’s Old Peculiar crime novel of the year award in 2014, and if you haven't read Bauer before, this is as good a place to start as any.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Rubbernecker

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