Friday, 8 March 2013

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

 review by Maryom

Samuel Galen is in a coma following a car accident and although unable to communicate with anyone can still hear and understand what is happening around him. Slowly he regains the use of some senses but what he sees may make him wish he hadn't...
Meanwhile, in the dissection lab, anatomy students are cutting open cadavers....
Patrick has Asperger's syndrome and, following his father's untimely death, a desire to understand what happens after people die. Following a childhood spent in dissecting every dead mouse or bird he could find, he signs up for a university anatomy course in the hope of finding answers there. As his group work their way through the remains of their subject, cadaver No 19, Patrick begins to find that it's not what happens AFTER death that's so interesting as the circumstances that led to it. How can he hope to solve a possible murder that no one else believes has happened?

I've read Belinda Bauer's first two crime thrillers set on Dartmoor but Rubbernecker is even better. With a main character suffering from Aspergers, there are obvious parallels to be drawn with Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time but the multiple points of view and interlocking stories of the 'supporting cast' also reminded me of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series. A couple of pages in, I was hooked and didn't want to stop reading!

The two focus points of the novel are Patrick and Samuel and for most part the reader is inside the head of one or the other of these two very contrasting characters. Patrick's tightly focussed view of the world means he doesn't understand people's motivations and interactions; the subtleties of facial expressions and body language are lost on him. Samuel understands all these things only too well but cannot act upon what he sees.
The minor characters are well fleshed out too - from Patrick's fellow students to the nurses working on the coma ward - and all of them have their part to play in the scheme of things.

As you might expect from a story set largely in a dissection lab, there's a lot of gore and grissly bits but it was Sam's situation, regaining consciousness but still trapped in an unresponsive body in the coma ward, that I found more terrifying. There's also a lot of dark humour and I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud occasionally.

All in all a wonderful unputdownable crime thriller with twists and turns till the very end.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Bantam Press
Genre -
adult, thriller, crime

Buy Rubbernecker from Amazon

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