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Blacklands (Exmoor Trilogy #1)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,932 ratings  ·  490 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, waiting ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published December 14th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tim "The Enchanter"
Posted to The Literary Lawyer.ca

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
...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
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
Brenda
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
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
Gary Haynes
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
Janet
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,
...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
Tori Clare
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.
...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
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
Maggie James
An excellent novel, so engrossing I devoured it in one sitting, gasping in places at the unexpected plot twists. A minor gripe is that the novel reads like young adult fiction; the author has dumbed down the narration to the level of the protagonist, who is twelve years old. Something I don't think works unless the book is aimed at children or young adults, and this one isn't. That aside, Blacklands is a great read and I look forward to more of Belinds Bauer's novels.
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
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
Kandice
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
...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
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.
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
Gary
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.
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
Richard
This is a dark and disturbing story that I always put off reading due to its subject matter.
However, I am so pleased I got round to finally reading it; once I'd begin it I couldn't put it down.
It a lovely story about a financially poor family making the best of things, life is tough but the Nan seems never to have got over the loss of her child; taken and murdered by a child serial killer but whose burial sight has never been revealed indeed the murderer has always denied killing the boy. The co
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Add Swedish edition 3 15 Oct 06, 2013 07:16AM  
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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
More about Belinda Bauer...

Other Books in the Series

Exmoor Trilogy (3 books)
  • Darkside
  • Finders Keepers
Rubbernecker Darkside Finders Keepers The Facts of Life and Death The Shut Eye

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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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