Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Belinda Bauer is now among my favorite mystery writers. I just love the way her mind works. I read her debut novel, Blacklands, (published in 2009) and was immediately captured by her assured style. She slipped under my radar until this year, when I saw hers among a listing of new books being published in the U.S. this summer by Grove Atlantic.

A young medical student discovers something unusual while dissecting a corpse cadaver and cannot let it rest. The simple story line cannot convey the host of associations and emotions, suspicions and satisfactions readers feel as Bauer leads us through events we are quite sure will turn out deadly.

This novel is classic in a timeless way. It is slim, pared to its essentials. With a phrase, a pause, and brilliant character development Bauer leads us finally to a conclusion that is wholly unexpected. I adore the way she handles the police investigation at the end. No histrionics, but a good policeman does the legwork and surprises himself with what he finds. This is good writing.

While I was reading, I was reminded in a very good way of Louise Welsh, the Scottish mystery writer, and Brigitte Aubert, the French mystery writer. Bauer has Welsh’s offbeat sly humor and Aubert’s daring: Aubert’s novel Death from the Woods featured a quadriplegic who solves a murder case. Bauer treats us to a paralyzed coma patient trying to telegraph his knowledge of a murder. It is masterfully suspenseful…and misleading.

The central character in this novel has Asperger’s Syndrome, and his differentness is handled so well that we teeter back and forth in our support for him. Brilliantly done, Belinda Bauer!

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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