Blacklands
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Blacklands

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,385 ratings  ·  445 reviews
EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone in town believes Billy was murdered -- after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounds their small English village. Only Billy's mother is convinced he is alive. She still stands lonely guard at the front window of her home, waiti...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published December 14th 2009)
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Stephanie
The One Sentence Summary: A young boy writes to an imprisoned serial killer, asking for help to find the body of his uncle, whose disappearance at age eleven sent the whole family awry.

The Meat and Potatoes: Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb has a troubled home life. His father left when he was young; his Nan stands at the window all day waiting for her son Billy, who disappeared in childhood; and Steven’s mother, upset over being ignored after the disappearance of her brother, takes out her frustrati...more
Sonia
I was actually quite disappointed with Blacklands. I thought that it was a good story, but was very short, and this could have been the reason that it didn’t involve me as much as I felt that it should have – there was just way too much missing.

In the blurb, Belinda Bauer says that she wrote the book as she was moved by the story of a mother whose child had been murdered many years before, and she was curious about how that kind of event would affect a family long-term…however, that is exactly w...more
Jasmine
Caveat lector [sic] **Okay I decided that to start including caveats in my positive reviews in addition to my negative reviews, mostly because I keep getting responses that are along the lines of "you should hate the book for the book not because of how you feel about the world". Well for everyone out there who manages to stop being a human being while they read a book that is a fucking fantastic idea, but when I read books tap into particular introjects and responding to the books by talking ab...more
John Blunden
There was so much I’d wanted to like about Black Lands; it’d seemed like a nice creepy story when I had picked it up.
We follow Steven Lamb as he writes letters to the serial killer Avery (I can’t remember his full name, he bored me with his one-dimensional characteristics towards the end) in order to discover the location of his uncle’s body. This will, apparently, bring his family closer together… because his family is shit and poor… and a dead body will unite them, somehow. This leads to a ca...more
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
'Blacklands' is a debut crime novel that is very well written and immensely compelling. However, I can't say I enjoyed it as 'Blacklands' is a very bleak novel in its outlook and subject matter.

Steven is a twelve year old boy living in a unloving household with his brother, Davey. Many years ago, before he was born, Steven's mother, Lettie, lost her brother Billy to a serial killer and pedophile. Lettie and her mother (Steven's nan - Mrs Peters) never got to know where Billy's body was buried an...more
LJ
First Sentence: Exmoor dripped with dirty bracken, rough, colorless grass, prickly gorse, and last year’s heather, so black it looked as if wet fire had swept across the landscape, taking the trees with it and leaving the moor cold and exposed to face the winter unprotected.

Sociopath Arnold Avery raped and murdered children; he admitted to six whose bodies were found. One who was not found was Billy Peters. The impact severely affected his family. Eighteen years later, his nephew, 12-year-old S...more
Georgia
This book's narration alternates between the POV of a pedophile and a boy in a really heart-breaking situation. So I was in turns disgusted and sniffling while reading this but even so, I just couldn't put it down and stayed awake until the early morning to finish it.
I'm looking forward to reading more books from this author.
Brenda
Steven Lamb can’t remember a time when his mother hugged him, wrapped him in a soft, fluffy towel, fed him his favourite foods – now that they lived with his Nan, everything was different. With his Mum, little brother Davey, his Nan and himself in the house he didn’t know why he felt lonely, but he always did. Even with his friend Lewis by his side most of the time, he was still a lonely twelve-year-old boy. So Steven spent the time he wasn’t at school digging on the moors, digging holes everywh...more
Ian Mapp
This is one of the books on the TV Book Club on Channel Four. As they only discuss one book, I thought I ought to read it to know what they are on about.

I can only assume that someone got a big backhander for it to get this coverage. Although entertaining, it is very light weight and there must be far more worthy books for consideration. I am hoping for more.

The story - as the authors note at the end - shoud have been a family drama but ends up as a weak crime novel.

It tells the story of a 12 ye...more
Diane
Life is anything but normal for twelve year old Steven Lamb. Steven has an odd hobby, digging along England's Exmoor. Not only is Steven trying to stay out of the path of some bullies, but he also hopes that his digging will turn up the remains of his Uncle Billy, and thereby help his grandmother and his mother move on with their lives.

Some eighteen years earlier eleven year old Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone, except Billy's mother (Steven's "nan") believes he was a victim of pedophile and s...more
H.I. Al-Muhairi
Nineteen years ago, 12-year-old Steven Lamb's Uncle Billy disappeared when Billy was only 11 and Steven's Mom and Billy's sister, Lettie, was 14 on his way back from school. And even after 19 years, his Grandma still stands by the window and waits for her long-lost son to come back.

His Mom thought it was the serial killer Arnold Avery (that was caught for six child crimes) that has kidnapped and killed Uncle Billy, but nobody was able to prove it and she had dismissed it.

But Steven, seeing his...more
Annie
I must admit to being a little bit disappointed by this one, especially as it's one of the chosen ones for the new TV book club. It's a good enough story with a disturbing theme, but all the reviews I've seen make a big thing of the unbearable tension - but it just didn't do it for me, there was a little something missing. I really didn't think the author got into the mind of Stephen effectively enough, and I thought the writing was just a little below par. Was I just not in the mood? Maybe. But...more
Yami
i was not sure if i should give 3 or 4 stars, from the brief i thought the novel would be more breath taking and would make me tear through the pages,but it didn't and only reached the climax at the very end,this novel is not as thrilling as it is dramatic, i think if i started reading it as a slice of life/dramatic novel and then found the suspense as an extra treat i would have enjoyed it more.

STILL there is a reason that made me give it 4 stars,and it was the way the author described the emo...more
Blair
The 'hero' of Blacklands is Steven Lamb, a young boy whose uncle, Billy, was murdered as a child nineteen years ago. Steven is profoundly aware of the effect Billy's death, and in particular the fact that his body was never recovered, has had on his family. He is convinced that if he can discover where Billy is buried, he will bring his family closer together and make his grandmother, who has never recovered from the loss, happy again. At first Steven spends his spare time digging his way across...more
Spuddie
This review applies to the audio download version.

In this stand-alone mystery, Steven Lamb, an unhappy twelve-year-old boy living in a small town in Somerset, UK, spends his spare time digging up the nearby moors. He's hoping to find the body of his uncle Billy, whom he's never met because Billy disappeared 19 years previously when he was just eleven. Presumed to be the victim of a notorious serial killer/pedophile, Billy is sill mourned by his mother and sister--Steven's gran and mother, with w...more
Claudia
I felt this book had nothing to recommend it, I wish I had never read it. Far too much horrible detail about the thoughts and actions of a serial killer and child abuser. I very much doubt the author understands how a child abuser/killer thinks and feels and I felt this trite rubbish was an insult to the families of any children who suffered at the hands of these sick individuals. The whole 'Moore' theme was far too reminiscent of the Ian Brady/Myra Hindley case and the time the police took Brad...more
Taracuda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandy
A disappointing read! The idea of a young boy, whose uncle had been murdered by a serial killer when a child and buried on Exmoor, getting in touch with the imprisoned murderer had so much potential. However, the characters were very superficial and one-dimensionaland there was no real empathy with their feelings as the situation developed. Similarly the writing was weak; it was simplistic and did not expolit the opportunities to describe any situation ie prison, the moors, the home and school l...more
Julian Lorr
It is difficult to give this book more than three stars. It should have been capable of more. The premise is excellent and it has the Moors as a backdrop. What else does a dark story dealing with dark subject matter need? Regrettably, the characters let it down for me. None of them have any life or drama in them, apart from the main character - a young boy - and perhaps the author intended it that way as it is a pretty desperate story: A young boy indulging a child-killer's whim by begging for t...more
Trish
This delicately-sized debut thriller packs a punch well above its weight. Exquisitely observed, the story focuses on a young boy in a depressed moor town and a serial killer who preys on the same. The language and the sentiments feel real, and one's attachment to the main character grows in direct proportion to our disquiet as the story unfolds. A first-class debut from a talented author.
Susan
I purchased this book ages ago and now I regret leaving it so long before reading it. On the plus side, it makes me wonder what other gems lurk on my 'to be read' list, as this is certainly a book which deserved being read immediately. Obviously, this novel has some parallels to the Moors Murders and the search for the body of Keith Bennett, which his mother, Winnie Johnson, fought bravely for until the end of her life. It is an unbelievably poignant plight to have your child taken in this way a...more
Matti Karjalainen
Minä leikin hänen kanssaan. Leikin aina heidän kanssaan ensin. Ennen kuin tapoin heidät. Aion leikkiä sinunkin kanssasi...

Äitinsä, pikkuveljensä ja mumminsa kanssa asuva kaksitoistavuotias Steven Lamb kulkee Exmoorin nummilla lapio kädessään ja kaivaa kaivamistaan. Hänen tarkoituksenaan on löytää enonsa Billyn hauta. Eno on vuosia sitten joutunut lapsiin erikoistuneen, nyttemmin Dartmoorin vankilassa istuvan sarjamurhaaja Arnold Averyn uhriksi, ja murhenäytelmä painaa edelleen Lambin perhettä. S...more
Wayne Owens
Blacklands is the début novel by Belinda Bauer, and as first books go you cant do better then having it become an International Bestseller, and winning the The Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger award for Best Crime Novel of the Year.

But what about the story itself?The story is from the point of twelve year old Steven, who lives with his younger brother, downtrodden mother, and obsessed grandmother in an old mouldy, damp house. He’s bulled in school, and only has one friend (Who really isn’t...more
Miles
18 years ago, Billy Peters aged eleven disappeared. No one knew what happened. The inhabitants of the small village of Shipcott had their suspicions. When Arnold Avery, a child sex offender, was arrested and later convicted of his murder, they knew.

Blacklands is a dark British crime novel, written by Belinda Bauer – Blacklands is her debut novel. Both suspenseful and psychological, Blacklands is an intelligent and mysterious novel; extremely fast paced and a delight to read, despite its often me...more
Jennifer
WHAT is this book about?

A 12-year-old boy named Steven Lamb lives a sad life in a family that was broken long before he was born. Years ago, his Uncle Billy (age 11) was abducted and murdered by a serial killer. At least that is what everyone thinks happened. Billy’s body has never been found, and the killer never admitted that Billy was one of his victims. Broken by the loss of her beloved son, Steven’s Nan is the only one who never believed that Billy was murdered. She still waits for him ever...more
Ina
The Lamb family is not an ordinary family. The members are two boys, a mother, a grandmother and an uncle (uncle Jude lives there from time to time). The eldest of the two boys is Steven. He's 12 years old and he feels sorry for his grandmother. She has been very sad in many years. 'Cause she once had a son named Billy who disappeared when he was 11 years - old. Even though the police and everyone else thinks he has been murdered and claimed to catch the guy who has killed other children at that...more
Katie
The first 150 pages were fast-paced and gritty. The repartee between Avery and Steven was cleverly written and gripping (if a little far-fetched) and the macabre atmosphere was ingrained in every aspect of the story and was promising a bleak and interesting read...

...then Avery broke out of jail. Why would a man who had tried so hard for parole break out two years before the end of his twenty year sentence? It makes no sense, it's almost as if Beauer doesn't know her own characters (which pretty...more
Aric Cushing
A boy tries to find the whereabouts of his dead brother by writing to the pedophile murderer in prison. The murderer breaks out of and. . . A quick read. I would have enjoyed it more if the novel was crafted like a suspense novel, and had started on Chapter 9. The end builds, but the climax is a let down, and requires one to re-read (and interpret, albeit slightly) what happens. Non patient readers might get frustrated with the non-action character development, but the characters are real and we...more
Carla Ford
I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction, it felt so creepy to be inside the mind of a child molester. As twelve year old Steven Lamb tries to heal the wounds caused to his family eighteen years ago, before he was even born, he puts himself in danger. Convinced that if he can just find the body of his uncle Billy, missing and believed to have been murdered when he was only eleven, Steven contacts the man who is believed to have murdered Billy. Arnold Avery is in jail for the confesse...more
Helen
I really like Belinda Bauer. This is the second I have read by her and looking forward to the other three that she has out. Her prose is simple, almost to the point of naive, yet she packs an enormous emotional punch. This book tells the story of Steven and his impoverished, in all senses of the word, family. A tragedy has taken the smiles and laughter out of his small family unit and he sets out to put things right. Wonderful.
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Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa. She has worked as a journalist and screenwriter, and her script THE LOCKER ROOM earned her the Carl Foreman/Bafta Award for Young British Screenwriters, an award that was presented to her by Sidney Poitier. She was a runner-up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for "Mysterious Ways," about a girl stranded on a desert island with 30,000 Bib...more
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“He stared at Avery's socks and felt an odd sense of wonder. Socks were so normal. So mundane. How could someone who pulled on socks in the morning be a serial killer? Socks were not hard or dangerous. Socks were funny; foot mittens, that's what socks were. They made a knobbly hinge of your toes and became comical sock-puppets. Surely anyone who wore socks could not truly be a threat to him or anyone else?” 7 likes
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