Rubbernecker

rubbernecker

Rubbernecker
by Belinda Bauer

‘The dead can’t speak to us,’ Professor Madoc had said.

But that was a lie.

Sometimes, only an outsider can get to the truth.

Patrick has been on the outside all his life. Thoughtful, but different, infuriating even to his own mother, his life changes when he follows an obsession with death to study anatomy at university.

When he uncovers a crime that everybody else was too close to see, he proves finally that he has been right all along: nothing is exactly as it seems.

And that there have been many more lies closer to home…

There are several different plots running through this book. Firstly Samuel Galen, a recovering coma patient who thinks he has seen a murder, but is in no position to do anything about it.

Nurse Tracy Evans, not like any ordinary nurse, she is selfish, greedy, unsympathetic. Her story seems, at first, to have nothing to do with the main plot but it is seamlessly interwoven later in the book.

Then there is Sarah Fort, mother to Patrick who has Asperger’s Syndrome. She hasn’t coped very well with his disorder and their relationship is both tragic and moving.

And so we come to the most fabulous character of Patrick Fort. Patrick makes this book, he is a towering character who has you rooting for him from the beginning.

Patrick’s father was killed infront of him when he was only eight years old and ever since he has been obsessed with knowing what happens after death. He takes a college course where he can dissect human bodies and where he believes he will find the answers he is looking for.

Because of his Asperger’s he sees life through a black and white prism, this gives him a unique focus, and when he tells the others that there is something amiss with the cause of death of the body they are working on, no-one believes him.

This book defies categorisation, it is a murder mystery/thriller, but it is filled with black humour. I never thought I would see the funny side of a severed head but I actually laughed my head off (sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂 ). It is such an unusual book with the two main viewpoints being highly original and intriguing.

If you like crime/mystery/thrillers with a difference I would highly recommend this. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
*****

Short Story Competition Winner

Winner-copy

THUNDERPOINT

Thunderpoint; whenever I hear that name, whenever I think of that place, it sends my brain into a tailspin. I feel the reaction throughout the whole of my body. So when Carrie suggests we go there, it’s hard for me not to shout out loud.

I take a big chunk of my beefburger and push a few fries in as well for good measure. There’s no chance of answering her now. I make this clear by pointing at my bulging mouth. She nods and takes a smaller, more dainty bite of hers. We eat in silence, me biding time; her thoughtful.

Finally looking anywhere but at Carrie, I say; ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea’.

She moves her plate out of her way, leaning both arms on the table, hands clasped together, pushing her weight forward towards me. She means business. She’s not going to take no for an answer.

‘Ben, I know you think you’re protecting me but this is something that I really need to do. I feel it will help me to come to terms with what happened, help me to move forward.’

‘Carrie, we all know what happened. How can going back to that place, reliving it, help?’

My eyes drift away through the restaurant window, I watch as a woman runs into the arms of a man and they peck on the cheeks. I can feel the excitement of their silent words as they greet each other. I wonder if I ever seem that relaxed to Carrie, or am I the one who is constantly tense. Is it me she feels the need to help?

As if sensing my mood she reaches a hand across the table and clasps mine; ‘Ben, we both need this; please say you’ll come with me’.

My eyes flicker up to hers, all pleading with me, then they fix on our joined hands. ‘Why can’t you let it go? It was ten years ago.’ It’s me pleading now.

‘You know why. He was my brother. Ben, I really want you to come with me, I think it would do you good as well, but if you can’t, then I’m still going. I have to do this.’ She says this with a finality that says I have to make my decision and I know I can’t let her go alone. Tom was my friend but he was Carrie’s brother. I don’t know how this will affect either of us.

‘I’ll come.’ I say wearily.

‘Thank you’.

On the drive over to Thunderpoint, Carrie starts talking about Tom, reminiscing about his overlong blonde hair, how their mother would constantly complain that he should get it cut, and how Tom would smile up at his mum and say: but the girls love it like this, mum. Carrie smiles, ‘They did as well. He was so popular. What happened Ben? Why did nobody help him?’

I lean back on the headrest of the car and rub my palms over my face, feeling the need to escape the car. Flee from Carrie, flee from the guilt, leave everything behind. I thought this was over. No that’s not right, I hoped it was over but I lived every day wondering if it was going to come back. Maybe she’s right and this trip will help. I hope so.

‘I can’t answer that for you sweetheart,’ I say through my hands, unable to look her in the eye. ‘It all happened so fast. One minute Tom was larking about with the rest of us, the next he was in the water and the current was too strong for him. It took hold of him easily because he couldn’t swim. Everyone said the same thing, that he must have slipped on the fallen tree trunk and lost his footing.’

I can see him now, floundering. By the time some of us had jumped in after him, it was too late. I don’t think Carrie blames me, but I do wonder sometimes.

‘But that’s what I don’t understand,’ she continues. ‘He was so terrified of the water, he never went near it because he couldn’t swim. It makes no sense.’

She’s pleading with me, wanting me to make everything right. She knows I was there and she wants answers, but I just can’t give her them.

‘Maybe we should turn back Sweetheart,’ I say to her. ‘This is just going to upset you even more.’ I put my hand over hers on the steering wheel trying to give her some comfort, but she just stares ahead rigidly at the road which is fast turning into a dirt track as we get closer to Thunderpoint.

‘I have to go Ben, I have to say goodbye to my big brother.’

We travel on in silence. The sky is heavy; hung with thick dark clouds matching the brooding atmosphere in the car.

When we pull into the empty car park, the only sound is the car tyres crunching over the gravel. Carrie shuts off the engine. ‘Ready?’ she asks.

I take a deep breath and nod.

As soon as we shut the car doors the first fat drops of rain begin to fall.

‘Have you got a coat?’ I ask.

‘No it’s ok, I don’t need one.’

‘Carrie…’ I try to reason with her. The sky is unleashing torrents of water and we’re about to get drenched, but she snaps back at me…

‘No Ben! I don’t need one! Forget about getting in the car and going home. We are here and we’re going to do this. Or at least I am. Now are you with me, or not?’

I hold my hands up in a defeated gesture. ‘Ok. Ok. Come on.’

We walk up the path towards the trees, at least we’ll get some shelter there from the rain. As we walk, Carrie puts her hand in mine and I feel how vulnerable she is. I squeeze her hand and hope I convey some comfort and not the incredible tension that I am really feeling.

Walking this well-trod path that ten years ago I knew so well, my heart starts pounding in my chest so loudly, I feel certain Carrie must be able to hear it.

We arrive at the top of the hill and looking down, the river is gushing its way past us.

Carrie turns to me, her hair plastered to her head. ‘Over there,’ I say to her silent question.

The fallen tree is exactly as I remember it. It could have been yesterday. She loosens her grip on me and starts to walk slowly over to where I pointed. I follow her, glad of the deluge; it’s giving me a feeling of cleansing.

Carrie stops by the river’s edge and touches the tree trunk. She starts walking forward as if she’s going to walk into the river. The rain is flowing down her face diluting her tears. I reach out and gently catch hold of her arm. Her dress is saturated and moulded to her slim figure. I put my arms around her, she is so skinny. She feels so much like Tom did. But this time instead of pushing, I pull her close.

Die Again

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Die Again
by Tess Gerritsen

Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are back—and they’re going into the wild to find a killer. Die Again is the latest heart-pounding thriller in Tess Gerritsen’s New York Times bestselling series, the inspiration behind TNT’s hit show Rizzoli & Isles.

When Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene, they find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast—right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott unwittingly awaken a predator more dangerous than any he’s ever hunted?

Maura fears that this isn’t the killer’s first slaughter, and that it won’t be the last. After linking the crime to a series of unsolved homicides in wilderness areas across the country, she wonders if the answers might actually be found in a remote corner of Africa.

Six years earlier, a group of tourists on safari fell prey to a killer in their midst. Marooned deep in the bush of Botswana, with no means of communication and nothing but a rifle-toting guide for protection, the terrified tourists desperately hoped for rescue before their worst instincts—or the wild animals prowling in the shadows—could tear them apart. But the deadliest predator was already among them, and within a week, he walked away with the blood of all but one of them on his hands.

Now this killer has chosen Boston as his new hunting ground, and Rizzoli and Isles must find a way to lure him out of the shadows and into a cage. Even if it means dangling the bait no hunter can resist: the one victim who got away.

This is the eleventh book in the Rizzoli & Isles series. Having read all the previous ones and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one, I couldn’t wait to read Tess Gerritsen’s latest offering, and it does not disappoint.

This book is slightly different to the other books, in that the setting is not just the mean streets of Boston. Alternate chapters have us delving into the past, on safari in Botswana. These chapters are narrated by Millie Jacobson, who has gone on safari with her want-away boyfriend in the hope of re-igniting their relationship. Millie’s character is so powerful it almost overshadows the stars of the show; Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. She transforms from meek and mild to having to cope with devastating events that rip through the members of the safari.

Tess Gerritsen’s descriptions of Africa; the raw danger coupled with its natural beauty are wonderful. She totally brings it all to life, whilst also having her say on some subjects that appear to be close to her heart.

Back in Boston, in the present day, we are re-united with old friends, and very welcome they are. The relationships of Rizzoli & Isles both with each other and their separate families are very human and are what raises these books above your average crime novel.

This time the duo are trying to solve the mystery of who is killing and gutting hunters. They believe they it could be connected to the safari six years previous and Millie Jacobson appears to be the link they are looking for.

Another great offering from Tess Gerritsen, kept me guessing throughout and great characters as usual. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to the publisher Ballantine books for sending me a copy via Netgalley.

Closer Than You Think

closer than you think

Closer Than You Think
by Karen Rose

Deacon Novak has returned home. The experienced FBI Agent knows that his move to Cincinnati’s Major Crime Enforcement Squad will be challenging, but the greater challenge will be saving his younger brother before he becomes the kind of criminal Deacon is chasing.
Faith Corcoran has escaped her identity. Being a therapist to victims of sex crimes was rewarding, but her work with their offenders has jeopardized her life. Her move represents a chance to build a new life in the empty old house her grandmother has left her.
What Faith doesn’t know is that a killer has made the house his playground, taking girls into the basement and murdering them. And now Faith is about disturb his fun.
With a murderer focused on her, Faith is going to have to put her trust in Deacon if she’s going to survive. Because this killer is always closer than she thinks….

This is a wonderful book that you can just immerse yourself in. It is full of fabulous characters and is complex and twisty. At nearly 600 pages (hardback) it is a long book but at no point does it feel too long, infact I was sorry when I finished it.

Faith Corcoran has had to change her identity and move back to her childhood home after she was being stalked and had multiple attempts made on her life. Unfortunately she moves from one crisis to another. The home she has inherited is being used to torture and murder young girls and Faith gets caught up in the middle of it all when she inadvertently rescues one of the girls.
Enter Special Agent Deacon Novak; an unusual looking man. He and Faith are immediately drawn to each other, but he is unsure whether she is a suspect or not and she finds she must trust him whatever.

This is an extremely fast-paced book and you are into the thick of the story from the outset and there is no let up until the end. The romance gives a good counterbalance to all the violence and death and I really enjoyed it.

There is so much attention to detail and I’m sure Karen Rose’s research is extensive. If I had the opportunity to interview her my first question would be: how on earth do you keep on top of so many characters, plots and sub-plots and appear to do it with ease? A great achievement because the stories just flow along. Most of the characters are full of background and their own stories which may or may not contribute to the main story but give the characters plausability.

Faith and Deacon, the two main characters, are totally endearing. I loved the fact that Deacon was such an unusual looking man.

This is my first Karen Rose book but it certainly won’t be my last. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend.
*****

Thanks to the publishers, Headline, for sending me a copy via Bookbridgr.