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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I read Bauer's first book and thought it was OK. Quite promising in fact although a little artificial. I didn't read the second but saw that it had lots of rave reviews of Amazon so assumed that she had improved. And now this one.

I almost don't know what to say about it. Like a previous reviewer has said, its not that there aren't good bits, a few pages at a time where any reader can get caught up with thinking that this is a well written crime novel. The problem is that the author, on a regular basis, gives her characters preposterous things to do and say and what makes it worse is that now we are on book 3 of a series of crimes all taking place in a small area of Exmoor, there is also the slightly farcical sense that absolutely everybody in these books is either a criminal, a victim or just about to become one.

But it is the constant absurd behaviour of the characters that jars. A small example. We have a serious kidnapping case investigated by a none too bright male detective and his side-kick female. They are getting nowhere. They have no clues as too the perpetrator. Up pops the local bobby who spots the reason why cars in the vicinity of the kidnappings have had theirs windows smashed. What do the lead detectives do ? They pour scorn on what is obviously a worthwhile theory and shoo the PC away. Its nonsense. The police just aren't that stupid. And this is just one of dozens and dozens of examples of behaviour that under the circumstance is just inexplicable. People don't behave this way.

To me this feels like the first draft of a novel that the author has ripped through in a few weeks and then without any input from an editor or any further re-writes has simply been published. Perhaps that's how thing get done these days. Which is a pity because somewhere in here is a writer who could do a lot better.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the third crime novel that Belinda Bauer has set on Exmoor. I'd already read and enjoyed Blacklands the first in the series, although I haven't yet read the second one, Darkside which also features the same characters. Although I enjoyed this book, I wish, with hindsight that I'd read Darkside first since a lot has clearly happened since the end of Blacklands. Having said that, you can pick up enough of the back story to read this as a stand-alone novel if you wish. Like the best detective stories, this one has a really good sense of place as well as character, and the author evokes the Exmoor landscape extremely well. The plot concerns the disappearance of children, with strange notes left by the person who takes them. It isn't a "whodunnit" in the strictest sense of the word, as the author reveals the perpetrator to the reader about half way through. The suspense is achieved by our observation of the police enquiry and wondering if they will be able to solve the mystery. The characters are well-drawn, although ultimately I found the plot rather bizarre. Nevertheless, a good read, and I'll be reading Darkside fairly soon as well as looking out for Belinda Bauer's next novel.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 January 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Set in Exmoor, plucky little Jess Took is kidnapped from her father's vehicle while he is off managing the local hunt. Before you can say "who took Took?" another little boy is plucked from his parents' car. In both scenes the only evidence is a post-it note saying "you don't love her" or him. On the case is DI Reynolds who is initially more concerned with how his new hair transplant is taking until the crimes escalate to a full scale serial abduction case.

This is the third book of Bauer's to feature young Stephen and local bobby, Jonas Holly. Poor Stephen has already been through a lot in his life as readers of the first two books will be well aware. Technically, it is quite possible to read this book as a stand alone, but I wouldn't advise it and in particular I wouldn't advise the reading pattern that I adopted which, for the first quarter of the book in particular, left me mindful of school days where I'd skived a particularly important lesson only to find that the subsequent lesson referred back repeatedly to the one I'd missed. Let me explain. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Bauer's first book, "Blacklands" but somehow her second, "Dark Side" remains sitting on my Amazon wish list. Stupidly, I jumped at the chance to read her latest and thereby missing out on the second adventure.

Thus, I acknowledge that my partial reservations about this book in comparison with "Blacklands" are at least in part my own fault. One of the things that makes Bauer's books so interesting and real is that her characters are affected by the traumatic events of their past. It's blissfully free of the ridiculous conceit in places like "Midsummer" where the police seem to have no notion that their rural idle boasts the highest crime rate in the world. No. Bauer's characters are damaged by events and in particular both Stephen and even more so, Jonas Holly who we are told here suffered hugely in the second novel in the series.

The downside to this is that to explain the mental state of Jonas in particular we have to get a lot of back story that I assume is in the second book. Almost exactly a quarter of the way through the book, DI Reynolds thought my own concerns when Bauer writes of him that "It was the memory of his previous failure on Exmoor that haunted him as much as this new one unfolding". Quite so. Once we get drawn into the present case, the book again soars into Bauer's darkly twisted mind. In particular there are a couple of short extracts told in the first person from the kidnapper that are suddenly thrown to the reader that are genuinely creepy. Although once we know who the kidnapper is, the circumstances are hardly less dark.

Bauer creates real suspense and provides a number of plausible characters, and while the events are horrific, she manages to make them hellishly real. I know some readers don't like crime novels where children are the victims, and if this sounds like you, then this is probably not the book for you. But for the rest of us, providing you are not as stupid as I am and don't read only books one and three, then I'd highly recommend this series. It's certainly worth starting at the beginning though because, while this does work as a stand alone book, it reveals a lot about what happened in the previous books and it would be a great shame to ruin the tension that her books generate by knowing some of the outcomes. And you are almost certainly going to want to read more of her works. She probably hasn't done much for the holiday trade in Exmoor though.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I read Blacklands and really enjoyed both the premise and the execution of the book. When Darkside came out I was slightly disappointed as I found it too far-fetched and gruesome for my taste. Finders Keepers continues the story of Steven Lamb, the boy who wrote letters to the man who had murdered his long dead uncle, and Jonas Holly the damaged policeman. I don't know that I would have enjoyed this book as much if I hadn't read the first two.

This book has children disappearing from parked cars with a sticky note left behind saying 'you don't love him.' Belinda Bauer writes a compelling story despite the readers discovering who the kidnapper is before the end, there is much more to this book than a whodunit, this is a story about people, how they react and what they feel.

As with the previous books the characters are realistic, Steven falling in love is so realistic, a true representation of real people with underlying worries and fears. I can't wait for the next installment.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Settling in to Finders Keepers I had a feeling I should have read BB's other two books Blacklands and Darkside first. There appeared to be a running theme of multiple murders on Exmoor, previous unsolved cases and police inadequacy. However, don't worry, this one stands alone; it just tempts you to search out the earlier ones to flesh out the picture (and that's a horrid pun you'll understand in time).

Anyone who loves a well-built crime novel will thoroughly enjoy this one. It is immediately gripping, absorbing and rewarding. On the flip side though there are some images that will stay with you for a very long time. I seriously hope that no one will ever decide to make a film of it. An X rating certainty.

It's great to have a top-notch crime mystery set in the West Country. This is no Midsomer murder; the story line is just too ghastly and deep, with that enthralling property of believability. The children we come across are refreshingly well portrayed; their mixed up feelings, adolescent insecurity and resilience are all spot on. The stubborn doggedness of country people, the mean hearted casual way some men use authority, the imbalance caused by money owed to local suppliers, the apparently thoughtless behaviour of some parents, lop-sided values including that of a dog over a child... all boil up nicely to make the rich mix of terror that creeps with icy fingers through the text.

Very rarely I am I so frightened that I want to look at the end just to see if a certain name is still there - this was one of those occasions and it was - but not for the right reason.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 November 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed Bauer's debut, BLACKLANDS. And, although I didn't read her second novel, I was really expecting to enjoy this book. Having now finished it, I have to unfortunately say that it was a slight disappointment. Looking at some of the comments left by other reviewers, I do agree that this novel is a bit hit and miss. There are times when it is riveting, yet there were also times when I felt my interest sliding, and becoming bored. In fact, I did actually skip some sections so that I could get to the more thrilling parts.
Another small gripe I had was that there was a lot of focus on DARK SIDE, the book which comes directly before this. Although you can read this novel as a stand-alone, the amount of time that Bauer spends on revisiting her previous book did make it slightly frustrating, as she dwelt on things I had no knoweldge of. Of course, I realise that if I had read DARK SIDE, this wouldn't have been a problem.

Overall, FINDERS KEEPERS was an OK book. There were parts of it that were deeply chilling, however I do not feel that this was on the same par as BLACKLANDS.
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on 27 March 2015
What is there to say, another brilliant book by Belinda Bauer, the perfect balance of tension,caring but tight description and a plot that keeps you turning the pages until the wee small hours. Having read the others in this series, it was great to go back to the dark moors and the village of Shipcott. All the characters, half known from previous books become more developed, though it is written so well, that I am sure it could be read as a stand alone novel. Haunted Jonas, a self obsessed Reynolds and Steven, now grown up and falling in love as an adolescent and that was told so well with all its awkwardness. It brought in a balance, a side bar, and was told very beautifully, showing that life wasn't just creepy and terrible in Shipcott. Bauer's books are a guaranteed good read.
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on 19 May 2013
I'm fortunate in that I happened to read 'Blacklands' and 'The Dark Side' in that order first before reading this. I think it would be tricky to understand the back stories involved unless you had. However, this is a compelling story which I found hard to put down. I wonder whether there will be any more stories from Exmoor from Belinda Bauer?
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A gripping read with a highly original plot, this took me quite close to the end of the book before any real clues were revealed. This is sadly unusual in many recent thrillers! The denouement is somewhat grisly but satisfying - it makes a twisted kind of sense. There are a few incongruities and one thread of the story - around the village policeman - is not resolved to my satisfaction. But if you want a generally uncomplicated and suspenseful read, this I can recommend.
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on 22 March 2016
I struggled with this one a little bit. The story in itself was very good, but there were lots of bits about the book that really irritated me. To my mind it was supposed to be a police procedural; but actually there was very little of that and the three police characters were just downright annoying! There was the constant references to a previous crime spree, which I thought would become relevant - it didn't. I thought since there was so much detail there couldn't be a previous book about these murders, but I have since found out there is. The book was far too long and drawn out in my opinion; it good easily have done with being 100 words less.

I did like the characters of Steven and Davey; they were really the only well rounded, developed characters in the whole book. The premise of the story itself was brilliant and quite harrowing in places, I just don't think the author has done it justice here.

There are worse books out there, but there are much better ones. This one was just ok.
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