Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Tweet: A gripping mystery with a fascinating, original protagonist. Once started, impossible to put down.

I picked up Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer because the cover button announced “WINNER 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.” This will be great, I thought. I love old peculiar crime novels. Silly me. I didn’t know that that Theakson Old Peculier is a British ale, or that the company sponsors one of the top crime writing festivals in the U.K.  Its 'Crime Novel of the Year' designation is a coveted and well regarded award, notable for allowing the public to vote in addition to a jury.  Well, I may be an idiot when it comes to beers, but I definitely know crime novels and mysteries, and here is what I know about Rubbernecker:  It is truly an excellent read.

     Patrick Fort is an anatomy student with Asperger’s syndrome.  He works hard to understand social cues that others instinctively give and get, and finds communicating difficult because those subtle cues elude him.  The defining moment of Patrick’s life happened when he was eight: his father was hit by a car and killed while he was holding Patrick’s hand.  After that, Patrick found himself on a mission to understand what happens to people when they die. He studied anatomy but not medicine because “[h]e didn’t care what made people work. He was only interested in what happened when they stopped….”

     As part of the anatomy class, students must dissect a cadaver and determine the cause of death.  Patrick discovers that his cadaver died from a different cause than the death certificate pronounced, and may in fact have been murdered.  When none of the supervising faculty believe him, Patrick sets out to prove them wrong.  His quest not only leads him to dangerous truth about the cadaver, but to painful truths about his own life as well.

     I don’t want to reveal much more about this well written novel, but I will tell you that Bauer has expertly woven several story lines, ultimately tying them together in a taut and satisfying conclusion.  Patrick is not the only “rubbernecker” in this story, but to reveal more would deprive readers of making wonderful discoveries on their own. I was so taken with the plot and with Bauer’s tight narrative and insightful characterizations, I could barely put this book down. In fact, I read it cover to cover in one day, which for me is the best review I could possibly give to any novel.

By Belinda Bauer
200 pp.  Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (August 14, 2015)
First published in Great Britain by Bantam Press in 2013
ISBN 9780802123961

P.S.:  Want to read this fabulous book before it hits the shelves? I have an Advanced Reader Copy of Rubbernecker to give away! Click on the "Giveaway" tab above for the contest rules.


Marcia Renert said...

Great review! You had me at cadaver. I need a good book....will check this one out.

Miriam said...

Marcia, this book is not out until August, but you can enter to win a copy now! Just shoot an email to Miriam (at) book-tweet (dot) com, and pur RUBBERNECKER in the subject line. The drawing will be on June 30.