‘Blacklands’ by Belinda Bauer


Twelve-year-old Steven spends all his free time digging holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Having disappeared at the age of eleven, the boy’s Uncle Billy is assumed to be yet another victim of serial killer Arnold Avery – but without a body, Steven’s nan refuses to believe her son is dead, and stands at the window every day waiting for him to come home. If Steven can discover where his uncle is buried, maybe his nan can find some closure. But without a confession from Avery, there’s only one option left – to write to the killer himself and ask him.

In this fascinating and scary book, Belinda Bauer demonstrates an uncanny ability to get inside her characters, revealing their innermost thoughts, concerns and motivations. Switching points of view between a twelve-year-old boy and a serial killer, she builds the tension slowly as the two characters work their way towards a terrifying conclusion. From the bland minutiae of day-to-day life for a family torn apart by loss, to the repetitive monotony of a prison cell, she explores what’s left behind when a sadistic killer sets out to fulfil his fantasies.

An unsettling and thoroughly gripping read.

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