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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 11 March 2013
Firstly let me say how much I enjoy Belinda Bauer's writing style, especially the layer of humour just under the surface of, at times, a very bleak and unsettling narrative.
Set in Shipcott within sight of Exmoor this clever story centres on the village bobby - it is a stand-alone novel but with some skill and imagination builds from her earlier novel, the brilliant Blacklands.
It is no 'Heartbeat'; it may miss a beat or two, but in actual fact that vital organ is ripped out of the community in this dark tale, as someone goes on a shocking murdurous spree. The killer is bent on removing 'those waiting to die', a few burdens on their families; culling those whose lives perhaps have ceased to have meaning or a future, other than draining whatever would be left as an inheritance.
Is it a series of murders to mask the true victim?
Or has someone just lost it? A maniac who knows no boundaries and wants the detective team, with the local knowledge Jonas Holly could offer to expose them. Trouble is the DCI drafted in is suspicious of Holly,ignores his contribution and fails to get the best from his team. Meanwhile the killings go on with the Police apparently unable to stop them or settle on a suspect.
Vital clues are compromised, evidence contaminated and psychological contributions missed as leadership and direction are lost.

People have reviewed that they quickly see the murderer and the later part of the book disappoints. I don't quite follow this reasoning myself, and the book delighted me right to the end as the tensions between the characters are wonderfully unravelled and the story builds to a bleak and horrific conclusion.

Indeed I look forward to re-reading it at some future date as already stated, based on the fine writing alone. In the short term I look forward to more from this terrific author with two books already available to tackle which I have no doubt will only cement the reputation of Belinda Bauer and expand her growing fan base still further.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2015
This is emotionally compelling with some welcome morose humour from Marvel's un-PC thoughts and speech. And there's a particularly creepy encounter towards the end.

Less positively, though, the rushed ending doesn't do justice to the first part of the book and I was left with massive questions about the killer's motivations.

What starts off conventionally diverts to something more intriguing, but it's a shame that the ending is so thin and frustrating.
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on 7 August 2017
This book will accompany me on holiday later in the year, but I have read other novels by Belinda Bauer and have enjoyed them very much indeed. Quick-paced plots and interesting characters, not easy to put down.
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on 7 May 2013
Not my usual read but the book became very addictive to see who was doing the dirty work, settings came to life in rural Exemoore
give it a go
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on 31 December 2011
The book is set in the same village as blacklands down Devon way. Local 31 year old PC Jonas Holly is married to Lucy she has MS he is always worried about her, he wants to protect his village against the recent bout of killings and has to call DCI Marvel from Taunton. Jonas continues to investigate, the killer is watching him and leaves messages. I loved this book and the way the author explained the scenes I felt like i was there.
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This is Belinda Bauer’s second novel, following on from the excellent debut, “Blacklands,” and featuring a familiar landscape – plus some characters we have met before. Jonas Holly is the village policeman in Shipcott, deep in the heart of Exmoor. Holly had longed for a more exciting police career, but has returned home after his beloved wife, Lucy, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now, he spends his time taking home drunks and being involved in neighbourhood disputes, while Lucy sits on the sofa and watches horror movies.

It seems as though sleepy Shipcott is far removed from horror, but then somebody suffocates Margaret Priddy; bed ridden and paralysed. Detective Chief Inspector Marvel is brought in to investigate the crime and he certainly does not want the help of local boy, Jonas Holly. Yet, when Holly is side-lined, he begins to receive anonymous notes, suggesting that he is not doing enough to protect his local community. Ignored by Marvel, suspicious of those he has known all his life, and hating to leave Lucy alone with a killer on the loose, Jonas realises that he is involved – whether Marvel likes it or not.

I like Bauer’s writing and enjoyed her debut very much. In this novel, however, she is let down by some weak plotting and a lack of viable suspects. Normally I am unable to work out ‘who-dunnit’ and never really try to – in this book, it is unfortunately quite clear who the killer is fairly early in the storyline. You hope she will pull out a sudden, surprising plot twist, but it never comes... However, generally the novel is well written, with interesting characters, and a nice atmosphere. I will certainly read on – that second novel is notoriously difficult and I know she can do much better.
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on 11 March 2011
There is drama in Shipcott, a small village community set in the wilds of Exmoor. It is the middle of winter and an elderly woman, paralysed after a riding accident, has been murdered in her bed. Nobody saw, nobody heard, anything.

Jonas Holly, the young village policeman, is called to the scene. He had been ambitious for more, but when his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis he realised that he had to put his ambitions to one side.

Of course the murder squad is called in, and the local man is pushed to the sidelines. But as there are more killings, as it becomes clear that the killer is targeting the elderly, the ill, the infirm, Jonas is sure that his local knowledge, his insight, could be the key to solving the case.

The plot starts slowly, giving the characters, the location and the themes space to take root, and then it twists and turns and gains pace wonderfully. There's some very clever plotting on show.

And what makes the story sing is the people of Shipcott: their relationships, their shared history, their realisation that somebody they know, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, could be the killer.

The relationship between Jonas and his wife, Lucy , as they both struggle to come to terms with the practical and emotional effects of her deteriorating health, is particularly well drawn. It's real, it's heartbreaking, and it cleverly draws out questions about the killer's motivation, about just who he might be.

I thought I knew, but I couldn't work out how, and then I changed my mind. More than once before the final answer came.

I'm afraid that the conclusion was a bit of a problem for me. The atmosphere, psychology and character that had driven the story so well were pushed to the side to make room for a dramatic set piece. It was gripping, but it just didn't quite ring true, didn't quite fit.

Just the one wrong note in a very interesting psychological thriller. So I'll definitely be picking up that first book, and whatever Belanda Bauer may write next..
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on 8 February 2013
I was so excited to get this book after reading Blacklands but it was a shocking disappointment. The characters were very clinched and the plot full of holes. There was no one in the book toidentify with and the ending was rubbish. It was all very twee and poorly navigated. Can't believe same person wrote BLacklands. Don't waste your time or money.
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on 12 May 2017
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on 9 September 2017
I enjoyed this book, I couldn't put it down. I'll be buying more of her novels.
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