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(Exmoor Trilogy #1)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  7,283 ratings  ·  944 reviews
Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. Every day after school, while his classmates swap football stickers, Steven goes digging to lay to rest the ghost of the uncle he never knew, who disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery.

Only Steven's Nan is not convinced her son is dead.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published December 14th 2009)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,283 ratings  ·  944 reviews

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Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-loved
I am dumbfounded just finished Black lands by Belinda Bauer & still thinking about the ending I can't believe this was her first novel kudos to miss Bauer it was a riveting thriller that I could not put down, I have read Rubbernecker & even think this was much better her writing style in this novel was brilliant & the characters especially Steven & Arnold Avery had me spell bound just couldn't take my eyes of these Characters just beautifully written.

The plot drew me in from the very first page
Tim The Enchanter
Posted to The Literary

A Chilling Story of Innocence vs. Evil - 3.5 Stars

This marks the third book I have read by Belinda Bauer. A few things have become abundantly clear. She is very skilled at writing young and innocent characters. Blacklands is no exception. Her novels are coming of age stories wrapped in violence and the loss of innocence. Although this novel receives my lowest mark to date, it is still an exceptional novel and confirms her status a new favorite author.

Plot s
Vera (Estante da Vera)
I thought about giving it 4, maybe 4 and half stars but this book deserves a 5 star rating.

The writing in this book is beautiful. It's impossible not to understand and feel Steven's pain. It's heartbreaking to realize he's doing such extraordinary thing - find the body of his murdered uncle - to fix his little broken family. All he wants is to be normal and happy. It's so simple and so poignant.

On the other side of the equation is Arnold Avery, the serial killer who murdered Steven's uncle Bill
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book shows the damage to a family, through generations, that a single evil person can do. It also shows the innocence of a child growing up with this damage, and how that child believes he can correct and repair the damage. Then there's the evil, and it doesn't go away, can't be healed or cured, must be eradicated. I liked the way Bauer described the evil. She kept it hidden and under control until the end when the sick, slimy, black evil was revealed. Excellent book and I highly recommend ...more
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Belinda Bauer is brilliant, this is her debut novel and it delivered more than I could have hoped for, I read this book in two sittings and could not put it down. The book switches between the world and thoughts of a young boy and a child serial killer, it cleverly gives you insight into the work of both and how their lives intertwine (and why )

The book grabbed me from the first page and I loved the ending passionately. It could have been a lot more dark or gruesome this book but instead it just
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, thriller
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
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Belinda Bauer book has been on my radar for quite some time and here I am after finishing her debut, Blacklands. It was worth the wait! I'm happy to say I'm blown away by her style of writing. I've held off giving 5 stars because I think there may well be even better to come.

The story is one of a young boy, Steven Lamb, growing in a small village near Exmoor. His uncle had been at roughly the same age as Steven is now when he had been murdered eighteen years earlier. The body, never recovered,
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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
Lucy Jackson
May 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was just okay, I wasn't invested in the story so much, as I thought the writing style was a little bit basic and at times I thought some scenes were a bit unrealistic. On a positive note the ideas were good, lots of interesting things were going on with the young boy Stephen writing to a serial killer in prison and what leads on from it, it just wasn't for me. I'd give 2.5 star rating.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This is written in a dark, moody bleak, and above average prose depth and ability. Especially as this is noted as a debut novel. It's just too starkly off-putting in the subject matter and within the social "norms" of the principles for me to enjoy the reading. After the half way point I intermediately went into a speed read. Unkindness just about all around is saying it lightly. Not to speak of the horrors of the victims and Avery. But also within the mindset of the spade carrying "searcher" hi ...more
Rachel Hall
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blacklands was the debut novel from Belinda Bauer and was originally released at the end of 2009 but it unfortunately never reached my radar. Since then I have heard much praise of her work and on the strength of this impressively assured and genuinely original novel I will certainly be keen on reading more. In the cluttered world of crime fiction it is astonishing rare to find both a unique and highly compelling debut, but Blacklands is that very thing. Unsettling and authentic to the point of ...more
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended by one of my Goodread friends and although I initially didn't like it, by the end I was hooked. This debut novel is very strong with very interesting characters. The story is dark but the dialogue between the characters is excellent especially between the two boys. I was so taken by this author that I was tempted to start another one hers straight away. I will certainly be reading more from Belinda Bauer.
This was really well written, and my first introduction to Belinda Bauer.

She created this beautifully dark, gloomy sort of atmosphere and the entire novel just feels damp, somehow.

The mystery was really intriguing but wasn't drawn out too long, which was good. It travelled at a decent pace and all came together really neatly.

Definitely recommend this one for crime lovers!
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: welsh
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
Tori Clare
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having read Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer, I was keen to read more of her work. She's an excellent writer. Blacklands is her debut novel and won some crime novel award or other, and no wonder. It's a fantastic read - unsettling, sympathetic, intriguing, authentic, clever.

Read it in a couple of sittings. The pages turned themselves. It's told largely from the perspective of a young boy, Steven Lamb. Steven lives with his mum and nan and younger brother and has a tough time at home and at school.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12 year old Steven wants to find closure for he’s family after he’s Uncle Billy was murdered as a child.

He takes it upon himself to right to convicted serial killer Arnold Avery. Who was found guilty of other child murders, it’s not been proven that he killed Billy but few a series of cryptic letters by Steven to Mr Avery the young boy hopes to get the answers he feels he’s family deserves.

Its such an interesting idea for a crime novel, not only the puzzles of the cryptic messages but an insight
Rachel Hall
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blacklands was the debut novel from Belinda Bauer and was originally released at the end of 2009 but it unfortunately never reached my radar. Since then I have heard much praise of her work and on the strength of this impressively assured and genuinely original novel I will certainly be keen on reading more. In the cluttered world of crime fiction it is astonishing rare to find both a unique and highly compelling debut, but Blacklands is that very thing. Unsettling and authentic to the point of ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Mar 08, 2020 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: group-challenge
Descriptive animal and child cruelty and murder. No thank you.
Her later books are so much better than this.
Carolyn  Storer
'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
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
Ian Mapp
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Gary Haynes
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is more of a psychological thriller than a crime novel. The subject matter is interesting and unique, so I won’t post any spoilers. The protagonist, Steven Lamb, is a twelve-year-old boy who lives near Exmoor, an expanse of heath and grassland in Devon, UK. It is a simple plot and rather frustratingly meanders to its unremarkable climax, although there is tension and the antagonist, Arnold Avery, is a suitably chilling antagonist: a child-killing paedophile. That said it is not graphic. Thi ...more
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tragically sad story about a boy living his life in the shadow of his uncle who was murdered and never found many years before. So as you can imagine it is a bit grim.

The author has a nice writing style, often quite matter of fact which I liked and some great characters; particularly Steven Lamb and Arnold Avery.

Steven our protagonist/hero is a 12 year old boy and is a smart kid in many ways. He’s hard working, and comes across as older than his years sometimes. Underneath it all I think he ju
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
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a young boy, Steven, trying to "fix" his broken family. His mother and grandmother have never gotten past the rape and murder of his uncle because his body has never been found. His murderer is in prison and Steven begins a game of cat and mouse with him trying to ferret out the location of the body. He doesn't understand the danger this poses, he simply wants his mum and nan to be able to move on. He thinks if he can just find the body they will finally begin to heal.

I love
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was about to time I got to Blacklands by Belinda Bauer - I'd had it on my shelf for around two years, and I've always thought of it as an autumnal book. I also had no idea this was Bauer's debut novel, and it's a surprisingly strong one (especially given the criticism I've heard of Snap, her latest work).

Blacklands follows 12 year old Steven, who spends most of his time on the local moors digging. He's hoping to find the body of his uncle Billy, who died in childhood 18 years prior when he di
Nov 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-read, crime, mystery
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
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
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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

Other books in the series

Exmoor Trilogy (3 books)
  • Darkside (Exmoor Trilogy #2)
  • Finders Keepers (Exmoor Trilogy, #3)

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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?” 10 likes
“Avery adapted so fast he'd have blown a hole straight through Darwinism.” 1 likes
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